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  1. #1
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    How much of a disadvantage XC versus Trail Bike - Racing

    Let's say I have an opportunity to either get a Trek Fuel Ex 9.9 or a Trek Top Fuel RSL for my next bike.

    1. If I do a local (central Texas area) XC bike race, how much of a disadvantage would I be looking at with the Ex over the RSL if I kept everything stock?

    2. If I kept everything stock on the Ex, would it still work as a XC race bike assuming I am not really there gunning for a podium spot anyway?

    3. If I got a pair of XC friendly wheels, and a carbon post for the EX, would it be about the same level of race friendliness as the RSL?

    I know this is a done to death topic but I am torn. I want the fastest bike possible, I want to start racing, and I know that a XC bike can double as a trail bike with little issue but at the same time I mostly, like 90% of the time, my rides are on the trails by myself. I'd also be nervous that the RSL might get beat up with too much trail usage (I have never owned a XC bike so I don't know how durable it would be).

    I know that no one can give me a definitive answer. I just want to discuss the topic especially with those who have experience racing a trail bike or trailing on a XC bike.

    Edit: (for those who are new to thread and only reading this post before responding) in summary throughout this thread I have gone from wanting the Ex for its versatility, to a top fuel for the speed, to a trail upgraded top fuel for versatility back to wanting an Ex.

    I would also add that right now my goals with biking are the following, in order.

    1. Have fun
    2. Hunt KOMs on Strava at local trails
    3. Race competitively at any local central Texas races
    4. Compete in long distance races such as dragons egg 3 lap or whole enchilada.
    5. (Maybe) eventually try 27.5+ one day for shets and gigglets.
    Last edited by drdocta; 03-11-2018 at 08:40 AM.

  2. #2
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    CX = cyclocross
    XC = cross country

    -F
    It's never easier - you just go faster.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fleas View Post
    CX = cyclocross
    XC = cross country

    -F
    Yup, brainfart there. Just bought a CX friendly bike so I guess I've got CX's on the brain

  4. #4
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    If 90% of the time you are just trail riding, buy the trail Fuel EX. As you said you're not gunning for podiums so why sacrifice 90% of your rides for 10% of something else when you can get by with the Fuel EX.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin513 View Post
    If 90% of the time you are just trail riding, buy the trail Fuel EX. As you said you're not gunning for podiums so why sacrifice 90% of your rides for 10% of something else when you can get by with the Fuel EX.
    That was my original thinking when I got my last Fuel Ex but now my thinking has shifted somewhat to "why not sacrifice a little bit of my ride quality when recreational trail riding when I can get by with the top fuel and have more of an edge for racing."

    As well as I just want to go fast and the trails in this area are mostly flat, I'd say on average it's a 60/40 split between chunky and smooth so most of the time I don't really need the extra 30% suspension and slackened angles.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    That was my original thinking when I got my last Fuel Ex but now my thinking has shifted somewhat to "why not sacrifice a little bit of my ride quality when recreational trail riding when I can get by with the top fuel and have more of an edge for racing."

    As well as I just want to go fast and the trails in this area are mostly flat, I'd say on average it's a 60/40 split between chunky and smooth so most of the time I don't really need the extra 30% suspension and slackened angles.
    Not sure if this helps you or not but I just bought a trek EX 8 29er last week and replaced a 2008 trek ex 8 26er. I donít race but the 29er climbs so much better than my older bike due to way less pedal bob, better traction and way better gears. Also the ability to really lock out the front fork. It is heavier than my 26 but I canít tell and I make it up things I couldnít with my 26.

    With that said, the huge difference is the down hill. I go so much faster down hill with the 29 inch wheels and the adjustable seat post. I just canít believe what a difference it makes. My confidence levels are so much higher.

  7. #7
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    130mm is pretty long travel for Texas, yes, there is RPR and Austin, but you don't need that much travel for either and all of the descents are so short and the drive so long to get to RPR that buying a bike just for that makes zero sense to me. Yeah, my 100mm Pivot was a little over-extended on some of the tech there, but not in Austin, San Antonio or Dallas, it was great. I like to do XC racing and this is my serious XC racing rig. I don't live there, but I ride there every once and a while. Where I live there are bigger mountains, longer descents, etc. If I was racing in Texas, I'd probably go for a hardtail, even though I bought an FS bike to race because I was tired of getting bounced to hell, bug again, I think that's a function of our bigger mountains and races.

    So part of the question should be, how competitive do you intend to race? The more competitive you are as a rider, the more the bike matters, an expert racer that places top 5 will likely be fast on any bike, but having a light XC race bike vs. a heavy trail bike will likely mean they'll be trading spots with the guys on the faster rigs. If you intend to be racing expert and think that you can be at least mid-pack, I'd say stay far away from the Fuel EX. I'd say go 100mm of travel max, you simply don't need more in that area, but having an FS bike will greatly increase your ability to enjoy some of the rockier places in Austin, Arkansas, etc.

    If you aren't looking to be that competitive, I'd probably say look for something around 115-120mm of travel, like the Pivot 429 Trail, Ibis Ripley, etc. The Fuel EX isn't too far past this, but it's pretty far past what I'd consider to be a competitive bike for XC racing. Much more relaxed, possibly a better bike if you are going to be traveling to a lot of different parts of the country and taking your bike with you. But in that same vein, the ~120mm bikes like the Ripley and 429 Trail will do the same pretty much just as well and retain enough competitiveness to be raced in expert, depending on the build/wheels.

    So IME, if you are just trying to be competative with XC racing, get a nice light hardtail.

    If you want a good FS bike to ride around on the trails in Texas, enjoy them, AND race, a 100mm FS bike would be plenty.

    If you want a little more relaxed bike that will allow you to really enjoy some of the terrain on road trips, like El Paso, NM, Colorado, Arkansas, etc, a 115-120mm bike would still be plenty and wouldn't slow down an intermediate racer, again assuming a decently lightweight build.

    The 130 EX would be ok, but it would be more than I'd want to lug around most of the time in Texas.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  8. #8
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    The Top Fuel is one of the most specific xc race bikes i have tried. It is uncomfortable, steep and twitchy but fast and efficient. I would never recommend it to someone who is doing 90% trailriding as it is not a good trail bike. So if it has to be a Trek then go for the Fuel. If not I think a bike like the SC Tallboy amongst others will be a good choice since it is much more of a XC trailbike than the Top Fuel.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrPaulus View Post
    The Top Fuel is one of the most specific xc race bikes i have tried. It is uncomfortable, steep and twitchy but fast and efficient. I would never recommend it to someone who is doing 90% trailriding as it is not a good trail bike. So if it has to be a Trek then go for the Fuel. If not I think a bike like the SC Tallboy amongst others will be a good choice since it is much more of a XC trailbike than the Top Fuel.
    Like everyone else, the vast majority of his riding will be riding on XC trails, which are the same thing as "trail" trails.

    If you're mostly riding relatively flat XC trails, buy the Top Fuel, toss on a 110 or 120mm fork, 2.35s and tune your suspension to solve any comfort issues.



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  10. #10
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    I have 5 bikes, one being a 16' Fuel EX 9.9; it has become my favorite all around bike. Travel on the 16' was 120mm front & rear (Fox 34 fork). It weighs 23.0lbs, and climbs and descends like a champ. I honestly don't think a Top Fuel would have many, if any, advantages in an XC race over this bike. I do own a more XC oriented bike (Scott Spark 900rc) which is a bit lighter @ 22.6lbs, which is also a great bike. However, on chunky descents, the Scott feels a bit frail. The extra 20mm of travel on the Fuel makes it a better descender than the Scott. I live in N.Ga, and probably ride more rocky/chunky downhills than you in Tx. Top fuel or Fuel EX are both great bikes, but if I had the Top Fuel, first thing I would do is slap a 120 fork on it.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    Let's say I have an opportunity to either get a Trek Fuel Ex 9.9 or a Trek Top Fuel RSL for my next bike.

    1. If I do a local (central Texas area) XC bike race, how much of a disadvantage would I be looking at with the Ex over the RSL if I kept everything stock?

    2. If I kept everything stock on the Ex, would it still work as a XC race bike assuming I am not really there gunning for a podium spot anyway?

    3. If I got a pair of XC friendly wheels, and a carbon post for the EX, would it be about the same level of race friendliness as the RSL?

    I know this is a done to death topic but I am torn. I want the fastest bike possible, I want to start racing, and I know that a XC bike can double as a trail bike with little issue but at the same time I mostly, like 90% of the time, my rides are on the trails by myself. I'd also be nervous that the RSL might get beat up with too much trail usage (I have never owned a XC bike so I don't know how durable it would be).

    I know that no one can give me a definitive answer. I just want to discuss the topic especially with those who have experience racing a trail bike or trailing on a XC bike.
    I have a 29er geared HT bike that is my "everyday" bike. It is more XC race than a top fuel, but I still ride it everywhere. I have 5" Trail bike, but I only use that when I want to hit the really nasty chunk or ride with a slower group and want work a little harder. My 29er HT is 21.5lbs and trail bike is 29lbs.

    If I had just one I would go with 29er HT or maybe top fuel. There is very little I ride where I need capabilities of the 5" bike on consistent basis. However 80% of what I ride I want a fast light bike. I race occasionally and when I do it mostly either my Singlespeeed or my geared HT on long 5-8hr events.

    If you want a fast bike get the top fuel. It will in fact handle alot more than you might think. If you want to make it more trail put a dropper post on.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrPaulus View Post
    The Top Fuel is one of the most specific xc race bikes i have tried. It is uncomfortable, steep and twitchy but fast and efficient. I would never recommend it to someone who is doing 90% trailriding as it is not a good trail bike. So if it has to be a Trek then go for the Fuel. If not I think a bike like the SC Tallboy amongst others will be a good choice since it is much more of a XC trailbike than the Top Fuel.

    This BS. I have two friends on Top Fuels and they "Trail ride" all the time. Occasional races, but mostly ride trails. Both are skilled and love their bikes. Now they don't do enduro races on these bikes, but still ride most anywhere. BTW... I wonder what you thin my 2 HT would be. 1 steel, 1 carbon. one 71 deg HA and the other 69.5. I will ride either bike all day. It is my 5" trail bike I don't ride all day. That is "comfy", but slower climbing and saps my energy. Good for playing around in super chunk though.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  13. #13
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    Short answer: No

    I'll give you a definitive answer.

    Age?
    Is this your only bike?
    What trails do you ride the most and which other trails do you frequent? This will be very important in answering your question.
    Are you racing Cat 3?
    How many miles and rides do you do per week?

    I race the Texas series and every race I can get to in Texas, I also ride every trail in Central Texas on my XC race bike (anthem advanced). I ride it with 2.35s year round because of our rocks. Throw a dropper on and rode Triple H/Sedona,, Windsor and la tierra/Santa fe and Bentonville(DH Trail). I'm usually in the strava top 20 on those downhill flow tracks in those other towns on my Anthem, so some of my biases come from not needing a bigger bike but I will try to be very objective here because not everyone wants to ride everything on a carbon 100mm bike but it will not hold you back as much as a heavy bike will on climbs.

    It can be easier to "Trailize" an XC bike than XC some trail bikes. You will be just fine on either of these bikes in the series. Fast Guys are just fast and those two bike difference are going to make an extremely small difference in your lap time due to the ruggedness of most of the XC race courses. In my age group, we have plenty of guys on 21 pound S work epics getting smoked by a guy on 28 pound Spesh Cambers with a Pike. If you look at the podium finishes in the division, the spread is usually farther than the difference could ever be between these bikes. Some of the courses would be better suited to the bigger bike due to the chunk.


    Horses for Courses between those bikes:
    Rocky hill - top fuel
    MJC/flat creek - Either but more comfortable for most on the EX
    Bent wheel bash/Abilene - Either is fine because this course has no climbing
    Comfort/flat rock - top fuel
    Pace Bend - EX for most people
    Dino Valley- a big climb but some big chunk so EX? choice depends on your weakness but both are fine. I would be faster on Top Fuel
    Huntsville - Top fuel
    Warda - Top fuel

    There is a race this weekend at Rocky hill. Rent a fuel EX, come out and race and see how you like it. There is a 1 lap option just for fun since this is part of the marathon series. Its a great way to ease into things and do testing. This will be your last chance to do so before the Season starts in February. All of the other marathon series stops are too long or dont offer a shorter distance option.

    If you are billy badass on the downs, get the top fuel, Take the xr1s off immediately and save them for Huntsville and Warda because they wont make it almost anywhere else in central texas.
    If you are a fit biker with potentially a road background and lack confidence when things get chunky and "droppy" Get the 9.9 and slap a rigid post and some slightly faster tiress and rip it. You will be faster on every course on the 9.9 anyways if you are the latter.

    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    This BS. I have two friends on Top Fuels and they "Trail ride" all the time. Occasional races, but mostly ride trails. Both are skilled and love their bikes. Now they don't do enduro races on these bikes, but still ride most anywhere. BTW... I wonder what you thin my 2 HT would be. 1 steel, 1 carbon. one 71 deg HA and the other 69.5. I will ride either bike all day. It is my 5" trail bike I don't ride all day. That is "comfy", but slower climbing and saps my energy. Good for playing around in super chunk though.
    This^^

    Top Fuel is slack at 69.5 (with flip switch) compared to my Anthem at 71. Since when did 69 become steep?


    I would highly consider top fuel for my only bike, but because I now have an XTC Hardtail I can race, I a looking at a Sb4.5
    Last edited by FJSnoozer; 01-08-2018 at 02:08 PM.

  14. #14
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    Awesome discussion points everyone!

    This is what I came here to hear and read.

    Leaning towards the Top Fuel

    Quote Originally Posted by FJSnoozer View Post
    Short answer: No

    I'll give you a definitive answer.

    Age?
    Is this your only bike?
    What trails do you ride the most and which other trails do you frequent? This will be very important in answering your question.
    Are you racing Cat 3?
    How many miles and rides do you do per week?
    1. 30 and and in my prime, but not an athlete
    2. It would likely be my only mtb (I have a light touring bike coming up soon) after I sell of the Fuel Ex that I have atm
    3. My all time favorite central Texas trail is Lake Georgetown Goodwater Loop but I frequent deception at brushy creek and walnut creek a lot as well.
    4. I'd like to start racing this year but so far have no experience racing outside of trying to best strava times. If I race I just want a bike that will allow me the best chance of staying with the packs and not being last place. Looking to do some long distance rides too like Dragon Slayer, EB, and Nutcracker.
    5. Right now I am averaging just 15 a week with 10 more if I am lucky enough to spin around the neighborhood on a weekday night.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    ...
    5. Right now I am averaging just 15 a week with 10 more if I am lucky enough to spin around the neighborhood on a weekday night.
    This where will be losing out when you start racing. 15 miles a week is enough to ride and have fun, but unless you are really strong you will not be fit enough to compete in most races. Beginner/Cat 3 maybe, But Intermediate/Cat 2 and expert no way. I am 43 and ride at least twice a week in evenings about 12 to 20 miles on the mtn bike or at least 20 on the road bike per ride. That is light week. Some weeks I get 4 rides plus a big ride or two on weekends and 100-150miles to 35 for an "off week" Sticking to this "training" plan and focusing on High intensity stuff during the week I am hopefully going to do well in intermediate (cat 2) Singlespeed in 2018. I cannot stay with the expert guys and hope to do well in lower level Singlespeed class. On my geared bike I would be mid pack even in Cat 2. If I don't ride as much as I do now I will not be as fast. My technical skills are improving and getting pretty solid, but climbing speed requires fitness and that means time on bike.

    I am not trying to keep you from racing, but just realize that the really really fast guys put in alot of time to get that way. No bike in world will change that. 15 miles a week is just not enough time.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    This where will be losing out when you start racing. 15 miles a week is enough to ride and have fun, but unless you are really strong you will not be fit enough to compete in most races. Beginner/Cat 3 maybe, But Intermediate/Cat 2 and expert no way. I am 43 and ride at least twice a week in evenings about 12 to 20 miles on the mtn bike or at least 20 on the road bike per ride. That is light week. Some weeks I get 4 rides plus a big ride or two on weekends and 100-150miles to 35 for an "off week" Sticking to this "training" plan and focusing on High intensity stuff during the week I am hopefully going to do well in intermediate (cat 2) Singlespeed in 2018. I cannot stay with the expert guys and hope to do well in lower level Singlespeed class. On my geared bike I would be mid pack even in Cat 2. If I don't ride as much as I do now I will not be as fast. My technical skills are improving and getting pretty solid, but climbing speed requires fitness and that means time on bike.

    I am not trying to keep you from racing, but just realize that the really really fast guys put in alot of time to get that way. No bike in world will change that. 15 miles a week is just not enough time.
    This man speaks cold hard truth

  17. #17
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    I would like to point out that the frame is just a starting point.
    With parts and tires you can XC a trail bike and you can Trail a XC bike. I have done both.

    My XL Santa Cruz Blur XCc weights 25.5 in trail configuration with dropper post, big brakes, heavy tires, lock on grips. Swap all that out for racing gear and it hits 22.3 with pedals. 2-3lb changes the feel and ability's of the same bike.

    Racing is a sport of diminishing returns and compromises for speed. Those compromises can make for a lot less fun trail riding experience. Unless you are serious about racing with a training program and specific goals, Get a trail bike! We bike for fun and there will always be someone faster than you.

    I got a new trail bike this year which allowed me to go full XC on the blur. I trained with intervals, cut out sugar and beer, hit my lowest weight and highest fitness of my life. I won every Cat 2 race I entered, it was a great year. I have no interest in doing it again a Cat 1 and my bike collects dust hanging next to my well used trail bike. Jumps are fun, nothings better than an ice cold beer after a ride and chocolate cake is delicious.

    Anyway, what you want out of riding will determine which bike to get. Good luck.
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  18. #18
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    I have a Top Fuel, raced it for XC and XCM this year. It handled ORAMM in Pisgah this year which included stages of the Pisgah Enduro, so I'd say it's trail-enough for me.
    -DC, just some XC Bum in Sfla...

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    Awesome discussion points everyone!
    Leaning towards the Top Fuel

    1. 30 and and in my prime, but not an athlete
    2. It would likely be my only mtb (I have a light touring bike coming up soon) after I sell of the Fuel Ex that I have atm
    3. My all time favorite central Texas trail is Lake Georgetown Goodwater Loop but I frequent deception at brushy creek and walnut creek a lot as well.
    4. I'd like to start racing this year but so far have no experience racing outside of trying to best strava times. If I race I just want a bike that will allow me the best chance of staying with the packs and not being last place. Looking to do some long distance rides too like Dragon Slayer, EB, and Nutcracker.
    5. Right now I am averaging just 15 a week with 10 more if I am lucky enough to spin around the neighborhood on a weekday night.
    The Top fuel will make you feel fast, which is good, because right now you probably aren't very fast for very long That 9.9 however will be more fun for comfortable riding Brushy and Goodwater, but I do fine blasting those on my Anthem advanced 100/100 and would opt for the Top fuel for my tastes.

    If you want to gauge progress on Strava times, Try to focus on your full loops with no stop like All of deception and then the extra credit. A full loop f walnut is probably great practice as well. Try out Lakeway to really prepare yourself for climbing in races. That is the most Climbing you are going to get in Austin on set trail. I would climb everything you can as fast as you can between now and February. You will not win races on the descents unless you are already at the front of the pack.

    Feel free to hit me up to ask questions about the series, what to expect, or just to ride. I was in your shoes only 2 years ago. What I did was get on the indoor gym bike in January 2016 several nights a week and rode harder and harder for 45 min to 1 hour to prepare myself for the Cat 3 season. Most of these courses are on Youtube on Cooper Sellers channel. You can watch those as you ride. It worked well enough for me to get second in the series. I also lost 15 pounds over the course of the series. Now I do 2-3 laps faster than I used to do 1.

    Speaking of the dragon slayer, are you wanting to do the 1 lap or the full 3 lap race? Here is my loop from this year. I had to go to ACL so only did the 1 lap.
    https://www.strava.com/activities/1219297460


    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    This where will be losing out when you start racing. 15 miles a week is enough to ride and have fun, but unless you are really strong you will not be fit enough to compete in most races. Beginner/Cat 3 maybe, But Intermediate/Cat 2 and expert no way. I am 43 and ride at least twice a week in evenings about 12 to 20 miles on the mtn bike or at least 20 on the road bike per ride. That is light week. Some weeks I get 4 rides plus a big ride or two on weekends and 100-150miles to 35 for an "off week" Sticking to this "training" plan and focusing on High intensity stuff during the week I am hopefully going to do well in intermediate (cat 2) Singlespeed in 2018. I cannot stay with the expert guys and hope to do well in lower level Singlespeed class. On my geared bike I would be mid pack even in Cat 2. If I don't ride as much as I do now I will not be as fast. My technical skills are improving and getting pretty solid, but climbing speed requires fitness and that means time on bike.

    I am not trying to keep you from racing, but just realize that the really really fast guys put in alot of time to get that way. No bike in world will change that. 15 miles a week is just not enough time.
    Don't be discouraged to race. Cat 3 in Texas is a mix of folks who are there just to finish, Fast talented riders who haven't built fitness yet, Returning racers who are trying to win in Cat 3 before they go Cat 2. Roadies on a mountain bike that will have high fitness and varying levels of skills which make things interesting, and People who started in Cat 3 because it is their first time to race but will soon be Cat 1. Different courses cater to different strengths. Race them all!

    The starts are extremely fast (practice your hard starts). The race feels like an all out sprint for as long as you can and then you hang on to the lead. You have got to be in the top 3-5 going into the trees or you are going to have a very rough time. Stay with that group and don't let them out of your site.

    It is all about the hours, before racing I got 2-6 hours per week. (strava tracks this)
    During my Cat 3 season I put in 5-8 hrs
    Now I target 6-11

    All of this is far more important than which of those two bikes you get so you really cant go too wrong. Add three gym sessions a week, or make that ride around the neighborhood a ritual and do it 3 times. It will pay dividends on the weekends on the trails. I would ride with some fast people bwteen now and then to get a feel for what its like to average 10+ mph without stoping for. Again, I'm happy to take you out, or you can head out to rocky hill this weekend.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by FJSnoozer View Post
    .. I would ride with some fast people bwteen now and then to get a feel for what its like to average 10+ mph without stoping for.
    Riding with faster people is one of the best things I did. Each week for the past few years I have been riding with faster people. This has forced me to ride really hard to keep up both on the flats and climbs as well as in the turns. I started to learn where I was slow and how much harder I needed to push. That was a really big step to my improving skills and fitness. Even last night I went on a group mtb ride and spent most of the time trying to catch the lead two riders. I may have been 3rd fastest in group of 9, but I was stil chasing hard. Pushing the climbs to my max and riding the descents hard. At times I could keep up and other got dropped. But it was all good since we regroup a little down the trail. Good for high intensity intervals. Hammer for 5-15 min then regroup. I would not be where I am now if not for these kinds of rides where I am forced to push to keep up.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  21. #21
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    More excellent information!

    Of course I would dial up my training regiment to reach a more race ready fitness level but to just finish mid-pack in a Cat 3 would make me happy. I just want to be in it and have more solid goals to work towards rather than simply trying to move up in Strava.

    Having always ridden a trail bike, I have grown this desire to ride a more purpose built bike, and if it means sacrificing some trail comfort and descending prowess that's ok with me.

    Quote Originally Posted by FJSnoozer View Post

    Speaking of the dragon slayer, are you wanting to do the 1 lap or the full 3 lap race? Here is my loop from this year. I had to go to ACL so only did the 1 lap.
    https://www.strava.com/activities/1219297460
    .
    I'd love to do all three loops but I don't know how realistic of a goal that is for me, maybe 1 or 2 loops next year and then all three the following.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    Let's say I have an opportunity to either get a Trek Fuel Ex 9.9 or a Trek Top Fuel RSL for my next bike.

    1. If I do a local (central Texas area) XC bike race, how much of a disadvantage would I be looking at with the Ex over the RSL if I kept everything stock?

    2. If I kept everything stock on the Ex, would it still work as a XC race bike assuming I am not really there gunning for a podium spot anyway?

    3. If I got a pair of XC friendly wheels, and a carbon post for the EX, would it be about the same level of race friendliness as the RSL?

    I know this is a done to death topic but I am torn. I want the fastest bike possible, I want to start racing, and I know that a XC bike can double as a trail bike with little issue but at the same time I mostly, like 90% of the time, my rides are on the trails by myself. I'd also be nervous that the RSL might get beat up with too much trail usage (I have never owned a XC bike so I don't know how durable it would be).

    I know that no one can give me a definitive answer. I just want to discuss the topic especially with those who have experience racing a trail bike or trailing on a XC bike.
    With that said, Top Fuel.

    Fuel will lean towards the trail side of riding.
    Top Fuel will lean towards the XC side of riding.

    The Top fuel can do a lot the fuel can do. just be more efficient when the trail points up and the flat power pedaling of some of the trails.
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    I just completed my first year of Cat 3 Racing. Itís also been the first year of riding period. I raced in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana so probably comparable to your trails. After researching relentlessly, I purchased a 2017 Giant Anthem SX. 130 front 110 rear travel, aluminum, 68 HA. I feel like my bike is similar to the Fuel EX so I can understand where you are coming from. Many people told me my bike was too heavy for racing , had too much travel, tires were too aggressive, etc. I finished the year 2nd overall. Not saying my Anthem SX is an ideal xc Racing Bike, but it allowed me to compete. I like the 130 travel, even though on the high side for XC. I feel like I can have fun on any trail and be comfortable as well. Iíve ridden in Elijay and some other more technical places and loved how it felt. I think you have two good options. These other guys on the thread know a lot more then me, but I side with the more versatile Fuel EX. Great post man

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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    Awesome discussion points everyone!

    This is what I came here to hear and read.

    Leaning towards the Top Fuel



    1. 30 and and in my prime, but not an athlete
    2. It would likely be my only mtb (I have a light touring bike coming up soon) after I sell of the Fuel Ex that I have atm
    3. My all time favorite central Texas trail is Lake Georgetown Goodwater Loop but I frequent deception at brushy creek and walnut creek a lot as well.
    4. I'd like to start racing this year but so far have no experience racing outside of trying to best strava times. If I race I just want a bike that will allow me the best chance of staying with the packs and not being last place. Looking to do some long distance rides too like Dragon Slayer, EB, and Nutcracker.
    5. Right now I am averaging just 15 a week with 10 more if I am lucky enough to spin around the neighborhood on a weekday night.
    If you wanna be up there in racing. You will need more miles each week over which ever bike you get.

    Cat 3 racing here in AZ has gotten stupid fast. This year was my last year in Cat 3, moving to Cat 2 SS. To stay up in the top 5 spots in Cat 3. I had to ride nearly 50-100 miles a week and have some good training push days. Not sure how the cat 3 riders are in your are or how long your races are, ( they dropped out Cat 3 miles in the race down to bring more people in )

    You can also go with a 120mm fork on the Top Fuel and make it more of a "trail" friendly bike and still be very efficient when racing.
    Too Many .

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    This where will be losing out when you start racing. 15 miles a week is enough to ride and have fun, but unless you are really strong you will not be fit enough to compete in most races. Beginner/Cat 3 maybe, But Intermediate/Cat 2 and expert no way. I am 43 and ride at least twice a week in evenings about 12 to 20 miles on the mtn bike or at least 20 on the road bike per ride. That is light week. Some weeks I get 4 rides plus a big ride or two on weekends and 100-150miles to 35 for an "off week" Sticking to this "training" plan and focusing on High intensity stuff during the week I am hopefully going to do well in intermediate (cat 2) Singlespeed in 2018. I cannot stay with the expert guys and hope to do well in lower level Singlespeed class. On my geared bike I would be mid pack even in Cat 2. If I don't ride as much as I do now I will not be as fast. My technical skills are improving and getting pretty solid, but climbing speed requires fitness and that means time on bike.

    I am not trying to keep you from racing, but just realize that the really really fast guys put in alot of time to get that way. No bike in world will change that. 15 miles a week is just not enough time.
    Lot's of good info there for the OP

    and Dammit Joe. that means we gotta race in the same class next year
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    Let's say I have an opportunity to either get a Trek Fuel Ex 9.9 or a Trek Top Fuel RSL for my next bike.

    1. If I do a local (central Texas area) XC bike race, how much of a disadvantage would I be looking at with the Ex over the RSL if I kept everything stock?

    2. If I kept everything stock on the Ex, would it still work as a XC race bike assuming I am not really there gunning for a podium spot anyway?

    3. If I got a pair of XC friendly wheels, and a carbon post for the EX, would it be about the same level of race friendliness as the RSL?

    I know this is a done to death topic but I am torn. I want the fastest bike possible, I want to start racing, and I know that a XC bike can double as a trail bike with little issue but at the same time I mostly, like 90% of the time, my rides are on the trails by myself. I'd also be nervous that the RSL might get beat up with too much trail usage (I have never owned a XC bike so I don't know how durable it would be).

    I know that no one can give me a definitive answer. I just want to discuss the topic especially with those who have experience racing a trail bike or trailing on a XC bike.
    I have both an XC race bike and a light trail bike.

    My XC bike is a fully kitted out Orbea Oiz and my trail bike is an Orbea Occam. With a dropper and XC race tires the Oiz is just over 23lbs and with an XC race trim on it the Occam is just over 25lbs. The difference in climbing speed between the two bikes is significant, more than what is predicted by the 2lb weight difference. The Occam is a faster descending bike, but despite having another 40mm of travel and much slacker angles the difference isn't that big.

    The big difference is the Occam is way more fun to ride. And the importance of that can't be understated.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

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    Would I need to worry about chunkier trails being too rough for a Top Fuel? I've never owned a XC bike but they've always "appeared" to be more frail looking. I don't take my bike to bike parks or do an huge jumps and drops on one but some of chunk out here can be heavy.

    I wouldn't want to be damaging the bike at an accelerated pace because I am putting it through more trail like conditions when not racing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brent701 View Post
    Lot's of good info there for the OP

    and Dammit Joe. that means we gotta race in the same class next year
    For sure.

    I'd bump up my training for sure. Right now I am not getting in the saddle enough to compete but I do train my legs 3 times a week when I lift so hopefully as I tone down on lifting and increase my cardio it translates well and works out better than starting out cold.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    Would I need to worry about chunkier trails being too rough for a Top Fuel? I've never owned a XC bike but they've always "appeared" to be more frail looking. I don't take my bike to bike parks or do an huge jumps and drops on one but some of chunk out here can be heavy.

    I wouldn't want to be damaging the bike at an accelerated pace because I am putting it through more trail like conditions when not racing.
    A buddy of mine takes his top fuel to MOAB all the time.

    It can do a lot more then you would think.


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    In my experience, climbing efficiency comes down to weight more than anything else. The frame geometry differences between Fuel and Top fuel are minor. If you can get a Fuel Ex down to 22-23lbs with 120mm front and rear, what real advantages would you gain with the Top fuel ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by splitendz View Post
    In my experience, climbing efficiency comes down to weight more than anything else. The frame geometry differences between Fuel and Top fuel are minor. If you can get a Fuel Ex down to 22-23lbs with 120mm front and rear, what real advantages would you gain with the Top fuel ?
    The 2017 and beyond FEXs are 130mm front and rear.

    But, I'd also state that climbing efficiency is also influenced by geometry, bike setup, suspension settings, and tires.

    It all adds up.
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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    Would I need to worry about chunkier trails being too rough for a Top Fuel? I've never owned a XC bike but they've always "appeared" to be more frail looking. I don't take my bike to bike parks or do an huge jumps and drops on one but some of chunk out here can be heavy.

    I wouldn't want to be damaging the bike at an accelerated pace because I am putting it through more trail like conditions when not racing.
    Where does this misconception come from? The vast majority of mountain bike trails out there are pure XC trails. A good XC racer is going to up and down them faster, on way less bike, and on much faster/less grippy tires, than the average Joe.

    An example: Look at Strava segments for the bottom half of The Whole Enchilada in Moab, UT. Or any of the other high usage areas. Despite Moab having a reputation as a rugged area, half or more of the people in the top 10 on many/most of those segments are XC racers (on 100-120mm bikes) competing in the Moab Rocks stage race, a 3 day XC event. They aren't running DHF 2.5s, either.

    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    For sure.

    I'd bump up my training for sure. Right now I am not getting in the saddle enough to compete but I do train my legs 3 times a week when I lift so hopefully as I tone down on lifting and increase my cardio it translates well and works out better than starting out cold.
    I don't think that you'll find there is much translation between lifting and cycling power output, other than very short (highly anaerobic) bursts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    The 2017 and beyond FEXs are 130mm front and rear.

    But, I'd also state that climbing efficiency is also influenced by geometry, bike setup, suspension settings, and tires.

    It all adds up.
    True, I really think the 16' EX with 120/120 was the pinnacle of a 'sweet spot' bike that could go xc or trail. Again geo is not very different between Top and Ex, and concerning setup and tires, could set either bike up the way you want.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    Would I need to worry about chunkier trails being too rough for a Top Fuel? I've never owned a XC bike but they've always "appeared" to be more frail looking. I don't take my bike to bike parks or do an huge jumps and drops on one but some of chunk out here can be heavy.

    I wouldn't want to be damaging the bike at an accelerated pace because I am putting it through more trail like conditions when not racing.
    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    For sure.

    I'd bump up my training for sure. Right now I am not getting in the saddle enough to compete but I do train my legs 3 times a week when I lift so hopefully as I tone down on lifting and increase my cardio it translates well and works out better than starting out cold.
    Quote Originally Posted by splitendz View Post
    True, I really think the 16' EX with 120/120 was the pinnacle of a 'sweet spot' bike that could go xc or trail. Again geo is not very different between Top and Ex, and concerning setup and tires, could set either bike up the way you want.
    Oh, I know. That bike is my favorite "one bike" of all time.

    I've semi-seriously joked about asking Trek if I could buy the mold for it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    Oh, I know. That bike is my favorite "one bike" of all time.

    I've semi-seriously joked about asking Trek if I could buy the mold for it.
    That was actually my first ever serious MTB purchase.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    Where does this misconception come from? The vast majority of mountain bike trails out there are pure XC trails. A good XC racer is going to up and down them faster, on way less bike, and on much faster/less grippy tires, than the average Joe.

    An example: Look at Strava segments for the bottom half of The Whole Enchilada in Moab, UT. Or any of the other high usage areas. Despite Moab having a reputation as a rugged area, half or more of the people in the top 10 on many/most of those segments are XC racers (on 100-120mm bikes) competing in the Moab Rocks stage race, a 3 day XC event. They aren't running DHF 2.5s, either.



    I don't think that you'll find there is much translation between lifting and cycling power output, other than very short (highly anaerobic) bursts.
    Silly misconception that I've just created myself when I think of a featherweight bike my reasoning is "if it's that light it must now be that durable!". Silly I know hah

    Lifting has to be better than nothing right? Too cold these nights to get out and ride after work like I do the rest of the year and I don't care to spend money on a gym membership anymore just to ride the stationaries.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by brent701 View Post
    Lot's of good info there for the OP

    and Dammit Joe. that means we gotta race in the same class next year
    I am still in Inter SS for 2018, Not quite old enough for 45+ inter SS as my race age will be only 44. It is going to be fun anyway. Well as long I race well. If my times are consistent with the few races I did in 2017 I will be happy. I would like to be faster, but you never know. When it comes to finish order I can only do what I can do and if more fast guys show then so be it.
    Joe
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  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    Would I need to worry about chunkier trails being too rough for a Top Fuel? I've never owned a XC bike but they've always "appeared" to be more frail looking. I don't take my bike to bike parks or do an huge jumps and drops on one but some of chunk out here can be heavy.

    I wouldn't want to be damaging the bike at an accelerated pace because I am putting it through more trail like conditions when not racing.
    Frailty depends on speed and jumps mostly. If things get really technical an XC bike won't break, but it may require more work from you to clean bits of the trail. In the old days everyone had 26" HT bikes and still rode alot crazy stuff. Comparing my 29HT XC bikes to my 27.5 5" trail bike I have work harder on the technical descents on the HT bikes where as on the trail bike given the geometry, dropper, etc let the bike do more work.

    Now as speed increases the longer travel/tougher bikes help take the abuse better, but if you see how fast the top XC racers descend on "frail" bikes over chunky terrain you will be amazed. Most of the time the XC bike will be tough enough for what you throw at it, but it may not be as comfortable or as easy as trail bike when doing it.

    As for fun factor... that depends on what you consider fun. One reason I have 3 bikes is because there are day I want different things. Some days fun is going up hills really fast. Some days is not having gears. Others it is bombing down crazy trails. The "easy" thing about racing is that fun is winning and being fast. So what ever it takes to be faster is more fun = better. For just riding around it just not that simple.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    Lifting has to be better than nothing right? Too cold these nights to get out and ride after work like I do the rest of the year and I don't care to spend money on a gym membership anymore just to ride the stationaries.
    if you want to train when it is cold... Indoor training. Not much fun in my book, but it will help a lot more than lifting will. Last February I got a free Gym Membership with classes. So I tried them out and when 3x week. Turns out I got slower on my mtn bike as I had to cut out 1 or 2 evening rides a week. The gym stuff they had me do was usless for my riding needs. Maybe if I had dedicated trainer for mtn biking and had been able to ride too it might have helped, but there are only so many hours in the day and no money for me to pay a dedicated trainer. Plus I want to keep it fun not like a job. I want to be fast, but being fast and not enjoying it no good.
    Joe
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  40. #40
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    Biggest difference you can make to your riding over winter is with a trainer. With the new smart trainers and online programs it's far more bearable (dare I say, even fun sometimes) and far more productive. When the trainer is adjusting resistance to keep you honest on your intervals, and the entire ride time is pedaling, with no stop signs or waiting for friends, you can gain a lot of fitness in a short period of time. It's very effective. I credit my podiums in two of the Epic Rides races this year to my winter training using Zwift. There's a few options available for the programs. I like Zwift because it has structured workouts and a lot of training plans you can choose from, but you can also do group rides, races, group workouts, or just ride around. The graphics add a level of distraction or immersion to keep you focused on the workout. Others prefer TrainerRoad which is just structured workouts.

    If you have already have a newer iPad, iPhone or a relatively recent PC/laptop (see here ) then all you need is the smart trainer (and fans, definitely fans). If you got a direct-drive smart trainer that accepts Boost thru-axles you could just put your mountain bike on it and not have to worry about noise (they're not silent, but typically a fan is louder)or wearing out tires like on a traditional trainer. Something like an Elite Direto, or Cycleops Hammer would both be compatible. They're not cheap at about $799 or $1199, but it's going to make a much bigger difference than splurging on carbon wheels or other lightweight parts to try to gain speed that way. Like a huge difference. Starting from where you are now, you could literally double your speed, compared to probably only an ~1% difference for spending $2k to drop 2 lbs off your bike. (Bonus: Riding the trainer will also make you healthier, carbon wheels don't really help much with that.)

    If you followed a plan like this one during the weekdays with Friday being a rest day and getting out on the trail for your weekend ride as you currently do, you could probably podium in Cat 3. Don't wait till 6 weeks before to start, this was just an example of a plan that I thought would be good for someone just getting started. Follow it up with one of the other plans that meets your time allowance. https://whatsonzwift.com/workouts/6w...er-ftp-builder

    Disclosure: I do race with carbon wheels. But if the choice was a smart trainer so I could keep up my fitness over the winter, or an upgrade from stock alloy to nice carbon wheels, I would choose the smart trainer knowing what I know now. Not as sexy, but far more effective.
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    Quote Originally Posted by splitendz View Post
    True, I really think the 16' EX with 120/120 was the pinnacle of a 'sweet spot' bike that could go xc or trail. Again geo is not very different between Top and Ex, and concerning setup and tires, could set either bike up the way you want.
    Amen. Still miss that bike HUGELY! It gave up peanuts to the Top Fuel in XC, and was slightly better in endurance racing. The new Fuel EX is a great trail bike, but IMO it is NOT an endurance racer.

    As far as the OP choosing between the two bikes he mentioned, and that are actually available for purchase, I'd go Top Fuel with a 110 mm Fox 34 fork.

    While the Top Fuel is up to some fairly rugged riding, the Fox Stepcast fork is not, esp if you weigh over 170.
    Whining is not a strategy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    Would I need to worry about chunkier trails being too rough for a Top Fuel? I've never owned a XC bike but they've always "appeared" to be more frail looking. I don't take my bike to bike parks or do an huge jumps and drops on one but some of chunk out here can be heavy.

    I wouldn't want to be damaging the bike at an accelerated pace because I am putting it through more trail like conditions when not racing.
    The bike is fine. If it cranks, warranty it. If you look at the Strava route I posted that's a carbon XC bike with 2.35s and a slightly stiffer fork than a SID or Fox 32 and I got plenty of strava top 10s that day. It doesn't get much chunkier than Goodwater. The key to handling the chunk here is in tire volume. 2.35 Exo Ikons work well. Not to mention, a lot of the guys on the top tens are even on Single speed steel hardtails

    I will tell you I agree somewhat with the comment about a stronger fork It might be worth owning a 120 pike or a 120mm fox 34 if you find the setup to be too noodlley for your liking. You will add 300 grams to the front of the bike but it might be fun for the off season, or even always. Just don't tell the warranty folk

    Not to completely throw hitch in your plan, but you should check out a Pivot 429sl which comes specd with a beefier fork. That bike is great for our terrain.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by FJSnoozer View Post
    The bike is fine. If it cranks, warranty it. If you look at the Strava route I posted that's a carbon XC bike with 2.35s and a slightly stiffer fork than a SID or Fox 32 and I got plenty of strava top 10s that day. It doesn't get much chunkier than Goodwater. The key to handling the chunk here is in tire volume. 2.35 Exo Ikons work well. Not to mention, a lot of the guys on the top tens are even on Single speed steel hardtails

    I will tell you I agree somewhat with the comment about a stronger fork It might be worth owning a 120 pike or a 120mm fox 34 if you find the setup to be too noodlley for your liking. You will add 300 grams to the front of the bike but it might be fun for the off season, or even always. Just don't tell the warranty folk

    Not to completely throw hitch in your plan, but you should check out a Pivot 429sl which comes specd with a beefier fork. That bike is great for our terrain.
    I would love to shop around but I can get really good deals only on Trek bikes which limits my market (a good thing too because with all bikes considered I would go bananas trying to pick one, and lucky for me Trek makes a damn good ride)

  44. #44
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    Just get the fuel ex, its going to be a fun bike. I have one and its a hoot to ride. I am also a Cat 1/Expert and plan on racing it in some of my endurance events later in the year. If you are just starting out racing, get a bike you like to ride, work on skills, ride more, and race. If you catch the racing bug, you'll be looking to either upgrade the bike or get a race bike. I upgraded my wheels and few other things and my Fuel is in the 27lb range and its great. For pure xc its probably not the right choice, but as a one bike stable its pretty rad. Once youre out racing youll realize at most levels its the motor not the bike making the difference.

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    If I got a Fuel Ex 9.9 and grabbed a pair of XC tires, a carbon dropper and put some extra air in the suspension it would only be maybe 1lb heavier with angles that are only a tiny bit more aggressive.

    That's gotta be on par with the average XC bike I would likely see right? There'd probably be a few 20lb hardtails but there'd also probably be a few 30lb bikes out there I feel like. No experience but just an assumption I feel is ok to make, not everyone is on a perfect race machine and only a few would be. Right?

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    If I got a Fuel Ex 9.9 and grabbed a pair of XC tires, a carbon dropper and put some extra air in the suspension it would only be maybe 1lb heavier with angles that are only a tiny bit more aggressive.

    That's gotta be on par with the average XC bike I would likely see right? There'd probably be a few 20lb hardtails but there'd also probably be a few 30lb bikes out there I feel like. No experience but just an assumption I feel is ok to make, not everyone is on a perfect race machine and only a few would be. Right?
    I'm guessing more like 3lbs heavier.

    Almost every part on that bike, aside from the drivetrain, is heavier than what you'd get on the Top Fuel. Trek lists them at 22.10lbs and 26.30lbs in the 9.9, 17.5" trim/size.

    Now, if you added a dropper and 120mm fork to the TF, the comparison would be closer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    I'm guessing more like 3lbs heavier.

    Almost every part on that bike, aside from the drivetrain, is heavier than what you'd get on the Top Fuel. Trek lists them at 22.10lbs and 26.30lbs in the 9.9, 17.5" trim/size.

    Now, if you added a dropper and 120mm fork to the TF, the comparison would be closer.

    Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
    Yeah that was my mistake miscalculating based on the 9.9 ex vs the 9.8 tf instead of the RSL.

    Even with that, just 3lbs heavier, only what, half a lb rotational across both wheels? That's gotta be on fairly even grounds with more than enough of the bikes in a typical XC event to be very competitive, right?

    Starting to like the idea of a more capable bike over a slightly faster one if it can still reasonably compete. I also have a Ex 9.8 right now and love it as a one bike quiver so I will naturally be reluctant to give it up for another model.

  48. #48
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    OP, listen to LeDuke.

    What many posters are missing is that the Fuel non-EX, even though a XC racer, would make a fine trail bike with the correct set up.

    By changing out tires you could have a trail worthy bike and a xc-race bike.

    The other misconception is that "xc bikes" cannot make good trail bikes. People forget that once upon a time we were DHing on 4" travel bikes as that was the pinnacle of DH performance. Then we had extremely competent AM bikes in the 4" travel range, and they were half the bike of Fuel-race.

    Real, good xc racers, can tame some very rugged trails on a xc race bike. If you want to be competitive and fast, that is what you'd have to learn how to do.



    Overbike-itis has reached epidemic levels.

    If I see one rider out of 20 using their 6" travel Enduro rig to its fullest potential...

    Lack of skill is not compensated by travel. Travel that exceeds skill makes riders slower, despite what they think.

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miker J View Post
    OP, listen to LeDuke.

    What many posters are missing is that the Fuel non-EX, even though a XC racer, would make a fine trail bike with the correct set up.

    By changing out tires you could have a trail worthy bike and a xc-race bike.

    The other misconception is that "xc bikes" cannot make good trail bikes. People forget that once upon a time we were DHing on 4" travel bikes as that was the pinnacle of DH performance. Then we had extremely competent AM bikes in the 4" travel range, and they were half the bike of Fuel-race.

    Real, good xc racers, can tame some very rugged trails on a xc race bike. If you want to be competitive and fast, that is what you'd have to learn how to do.



    Overbike-itis has reached epidemic levels.

    If I see one rider out of 20 using their 6" travel Enduro rig to its fullest potential...

    Lack of skill is not compensated by travel. Travel that exceeds skill makes riders slower, despite what they think.
    Very good info and I don't disagree. Just curious as how much of a disadvantage it would likely be. With the bulk of my riding being non-competitive giving up maybe a small percentage of speed and efficiency wouldn't bother me too much if it means I can keep the same bike I am used to.

    It would be awesome if there was some real world data, like actual numbers to compare an athletes performance at doing a varied XC loop on two similar bikes to compare just how much speed is lost. I know we have rough lbs to time increase numbers but not much on anything else that takes into account frame geo as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miker J View Post
    OP, listen to LeDuke.

    What many posters are missing is that the Fuel non-EX, even though a XC racer, would make a fine trail bike with the correct set up.

    By changing out tires you could have a trail worthy bike and a xc-race bike.

    The other misconception is that "xc bikes" cannot make good trail bikes. People forget that once upon a time we were DHing on 4" travel bikes as that was the pinnacle of DH performance. Then we had extremely competent AM bikes in the 4" travel range, and they were half the bike of Fuel-race.

    Real, good xc racers, can tame some very rugged trails on a xc race bike. If you want to be competitive and fast, that is what you'd have to learn how to do.



    Overbike-itis has reached epidemic levels.

    If I see one rider out of 20 using their 6" travel Enduro rig to its fullest potential...

    Lack of skill is not compensated by travel. Travel that exceeds skill makes riders slower, despite what they think.
    I agree with you that the Top fuel set up correctly would make a great xc or trail bike.
    But I would also make the point that you can say the same about the Fuel EX. Especially if you consider the 2016 with 120/120. Again my 16' is 23.0 lbs loaded (cage, pedals, everything) Granted it has XX1 drivetrain, no dropper, RaRa- RoRo tires. It would be competitive with any FS XC bike. I think either bike would make you grin ear to ear, especially if you set the TF up with a 120 fork, or the EX with lighter components.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    It would be awesome if there was some real world data, like actual numbers to compare an athletes performance at doing a varied XC loop on two similar bikes to compare just how much speed is lost. I know we have rough lbs to time increase numbers but not much on anything else that takes into account frame geo as well.
    FWIW, I can offer up one replicated data point. I've got a favorite 4 hour suffer fest training loop (in the vicinity of Falls Creek, WA for those familiar).

    On my 2016 FEX 9.9, over two seasons, that ride always took me between 4:01 and 4:03. Never broke 4 hours, and probably did this ride six times during that period.

    On my 2018 FEX 9.9, with identical wheels and tires, I was surprised to toggle the Garmin at the end of the ride and see 3:55. Seems significant, but I never did it again at that level of effort, since I kinda sorta retired last season, and ended up doing more group rides.

    Like I said TIFWIW, but it surprised the crap out of me, since I've said many times that the old 120 mm FEX was the best endurance racing bike I ever owned. Apparently, the 130 mm version is a bit faster, at least on this fairly rugged loop.
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    Quote Originally Posted by splitendz View Post
    I agree with you that the Top fuel set up correctly would make a great xc or trail bike.
    But I would also make the point that you can say the same about the Fuel EX. Especially if you consider the 2016 with 120/120. Again my 16' is 23.0 lbs loaded (cage, pedals, everything) Granted it has XX1 drivetrain, no dropper, RaRa- RoRo tires. It would be competitive with any FS XC bike. I think either bike would make you grin ear to ear, especially if you set the TF up with a 120 fork, or the EX with lighter components.
    The '16 and '17/'18 are very different bikes...

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    Looks like the best solution is for Trek to release two versions of the EX next year.

    One similar to the 2016 as an aggressive XC bike and one with the modern aggressive build and maybe 140mm of travel as an all mountain rig.

    But in seriousness I am going to let this buying opportunity pass and see if/when it comes back around how I feel after I get a few races under my belt on the Ex 9.8.

    If the racing bug really gets me and I want to start gunning for the top of Cat 1 (unlikely but who knows!) I'll sell the Ex and convert but if racing isn't my gambit then I'll stick with the Ex.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo View Post
    FWIW, I can offer up one replicated data point. I've got a favorite 4 hour suffer fest training loop (in the vicinity of Falls Creek, WA for those familiar).

    On my 2016 FEX 9.9, over two seasons, that ride always took me between 4:01 and 4:03. Never broke 4 hours, and probably did this ride six times during that period.

    On my 2018 FEX 9.9, with identical wheels and tires, I was surprised to toggle the Garmin at the end of the ride and see 3:55. Seems significant, but I never did it again at that level of effort, since I kinda sorta retired last season, and ended up doing more group rides.

    Like I said TIFWIW, but it surprised the crap out of me, since I've said many times that the old 120 mm FEX was the best endurance racing bike I ever owned. Apparently, the 130 mm version is a bit faster, at least on this fairly rugged loop.
    Reassuring to know. Maybe at the very least the 130mm might be just as capable as the former 120mm with all of the other changes. This would make me happy.

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    Your current bike will be fine for Cat 3. You will pull up at the line and freak out at some of the race bikes, Lycra, Teams, Chatter. Don't let any of that bother you one bit. All that matters is going hard AF and wait for people to pop one by one. They feel just as bad as you do. Its going to hurt. You end up getting into a race with the people around you whether that is 1-2-3 or 5-6-7. Sometimes you are alone, and that's when mediocrity can set in.

    It is very important to make the first race so you can get in the starting line call-up for future races and not be stuck behind the mess.

    My buddy is supper fit, he started in Cat 3 in Fall of 2016 and will be a steady cat 1 podium contender this season. He has only ever raced on his 28 pound Camber with a Pike, on which he smoked the Cat 3 field, always 1-2-3 in Cat 2. Basicly, its the rider. Get yourself some armored XC tires and you will be fine.

    Oh and don't forget your paydirt hours!

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    i ride a top fuel 9.9 rsl .It weighs under 22lbs with pedals cage ect . i use it for general trail use and it handles it just fine . Times are well up there on all the climbing sections as well as a lot of the decents so cant be bad just not as comfortable and a bit more on edge than a slacker longer travel trail bike

  57. #57
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    I have a Pivot 429 SL and my riding buddy has a Top Fuel. We both ride the heck out of those two bikes, and have said many times, we use them more like trail bikes that XC bikes. Maybe that's why I'm on my third frame (pivot and crank inserts debonding) and he has broken his main pivot bolt five times. After riding these bikes for three seasons we have both concluded they just aren't made for the punishment we dole out. They are made to be light and fast. We were coming off hardtails and figured the suspension could take more abuse, but that's not how it worked out. If you want to charge into rock gardens, do jumps or do any drops over 3 ft., get the Fuel EX.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    Silly misconception that I've just created myself when I think of a featherweight bike my reasoning is "if it's that light it must now be that durable!". Silly I know hah

    Lifting has to be better than nothing right? Too cold these nights to get out and ride after work like I do the rest of the year and I don't care to spend money on a gym membership anymore just to ride the stationaries.
    Top fuel with a dropper,120 fork and burlier tires would handle anything you could throw at it I'd wager.

    Out of curiosity, living in New England I'm curious how cold is too cold to ride?

  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Back2MTB View Post
    Top fuel with a dropper,120 fork and burlier tires would handle anything you could throw at it I'd wager.

    Out of curiosity, living in New England I'm curious how cold is too cold to ride?
    By my Texas boy standards and with a refusal to buy cold weather riding gear for the handful of times I could use it a year, I'd say ~50į is usually enough of a deterrent most nights.

  60. #60
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    I really believe it comes down to riding style. A trail bike is going to cater to a more aggressive riding style and can be ridden faster on more technical trails than a XC racer. In the right hands, with someone who rides aggressively and has a high degree of technical acumen, they're simply going to be faster....that is why the world of Enduro racing has become so successful.

    However, if you need the bike to be more for you, ie. you need to make up for the lack of skill through technical parts, and your strategy is to make up time with speed through faster sections and the climbs....the XC racer is going to give big advantages in acceleration and efficiency. They're simply lighter and faster bikes.

    If I were still racing XC, and wanted to be competitive on XC courses, I would own an XC race bike. Its going to give me a bigger advantage throughout the duration of a race, and I'll have more chances to make up time. This is of course specific to the context of XC racing where squeezing out seconds matters

    However, if I'm not racing, or if I were only doing a couple races a year with some friends for fun. I would own a trail bike and just use that. They can be built up light, and be fast (reference my first paragraph), but simply put....trail bikes are just more fun, more versatile, and you're not going to run into the same problems as you will with a XC race bike. Instead of tip-toe'ing through sketchy sections picking your line because you have weight-weenie tires...you blast through it with white knuckles of rage. The whole point of a trail bike is that you don't pick the line you need to take, you pick the line you want to go....and there's a real difference, and satisfaction that comes along with being able to do that.
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    Instead of tip-toe'ing through sketchy sections picking your line because you have weight-weenie tires...you blast through it with white knuckles of rage.....[/QUOTE]

    Best sentence Iíve ever read on here.Liiterary genius.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jstrong View Post
    Instead of tip-toe'ing through sketchy sections picking your line because you have weight-weenie tires...you blast through it with white knuckles of rage.....
    Best sentence Iíve ever read on here.Liiterary genius.[/QUOTE]

    HAHA, Thanks Dude!

    Seriously....Tip-Toe'ing! Literally F'ing Tip-Toe'ing!!!

    Exhibition A. Tip-toe'er (left), compared to white-knuckle trail-rager! (right)How much of a disadvantage XC versus Trail Bike - Racing-derewww.jpg
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  63. #63
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    Why not just race a 160mm Enduro bike, then?

    "So capable".

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    I started riding last year at 50. I have a 32 pound Giant FS and a 2017 Trek 9.9 Top Fuel RSL. I ride the Top Fuel everywhere including on the downhill runs at Northstar. Northstar is the only place I enjoyed the heavier full suspension Giant. I also raced 5 XC races this year, CAT 3. The Top Fuel worked well but I am thinking I might pick up a hard tail for the races with lots of climbing and try that for awhile.

  65. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by careyj1 View Post
    I ride the Top Fuel everywhere including on the downhill runs at Northstar.
    Ouch, doesn't sound like fun.
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  66. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by careyj1 View Post
    I started riding last year at 50. I have a 32 pound Giant FS and a 2017 Trek 9.9 Top Fuel RSL. I ride the Top Fuel everywhere including on the downhill runs at Northstar. Northstar is the only place I enjoyed the heavier full suspension Giant. I also raced 5 XC races this year, CAT 3. The Top Fuel worked well but I am thinking I might pick up a hard tail for the races with lots of climbing and try that for awhile.
    My only concern would be how fast you're descending an actually downhill trail on a 9.9 Top Fuel.....I imagine pretty gingerly. Nothing wrong with that, but I have to imagine it be a pretty bad situation if someone is riding that trail on an actual DH or long travel trail bike....they're going to be coming up on you very very fast, and if you're on the other side of a blind corner.....potentially a bad situation.

    I don't know the trail, but a quick google and youtube video started me off with a guy on a Pivot Firebird. Guess it was Lifewire in the video. Not technical, just fast with a lot of table tops and berms. That isn't to say other trails there aren't.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W53pE5jxWgY

    The reason these big travel bikes exist is the stability at speed and the suspension travel to absorb big hits and maintain control through technical terrain. That isn't to say you can't do it on something else, but you're not going to maintain the speed as someone with skill on a proper bike designed for that type of riding.

    On a XC course, the 9.9RSL is going to be the winner all day long, but everyone is going to go out and buy a $9000 XC race bike as their "do-it-all" bike, and I don't know many shops that would recommend it unless they're just more interested in getting the $9000 bike off their floor. For a do-it-all bike, most likely the shop is going to recommend a mid-travel (110mm-140mm) trail bike as the "do-it-all" depending on the terrain in the region. The reality is that the 9.9RSL is a pretty unforgiving race geometry bike designed for two things: fast and efficient. There is a reason MTBs are put into categories..there is a massive diversity in the sport with so many different types of riding.
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  67. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by FJSnoozer View Post
    Short answer: No

    I'll give you a definitive answer.

    Age?
    Is this your only bike?
    What trails do you ride the most and which other trails do you frequent? This will be very important in answering your question.
    Are you racing Cat 3?
    How many miles and rides do you do per week?

    I race the Texas series and every race I can get to in Texas, I also ride every trail in Central Texas on my XC race bike (anthem advanced). I ride it with 2.35s year round because of our rocks. Throw a dropper on and rode Triple H/Sedona,, Windsor and la tierra/Santa fe and Bentonville(DH Trail). I'm usually in the strava top 20 on those downhill flow tracks in those other towns on my Anthem, so some of my biases come from not needing a bigger bike but I will try to be very objective here because not everyone wants to ride everything on a carbon 100mm bike but it will not hold you back as much as a heavy bike will on climbs.

    It can be easier to "Trailize" an XC bike than XC some trail bikes. You will be just fine on either of these bikes in the series. Fast Guys are just fast and those two bike difference are going to make an extremely small difference in your lap time due to the ruggedness of most of the XC race courses. In my age group, we have plenty of guys on 21 pound S work epics getting smoked by a guy on 28 pound Spesh Cambers with a Pike. If you look at the podium finishes in the division, the spread is usually farther than the difference could ever be between these bikes. Some of the courses would be better suited to the bigger bike due to the chunk.


    Horses for Courses between those bikes:
    Rocky hill - top fuel
    MJC/flat creek - Either but more comfortable for most on the 9.9
    Bent wheel bash/Abilene - Either is fine because this course has no climbing
    Comfort/flat rock - top fuel
    Pace Bend - 9.9
    Dino Valley- a big climb but some big chunk so 9.9? choice depends on your weakness but both are fine.
    Huntsville - Top fuel
    Warda - Top fuel

    There is a race this weekend at Rocky hill. Rent a fuel EX, come out and race and see how you like it. There is a 1 lap option just for fun since this is part of the marathon series. Its a great way to ease into things and do testing. This will be your last chance to do so before the Season starts in February. All of the other marathon series stops are too long or dont offer a shorter distance option.

    If you are billy badass on the downs, get the top fuel, Take the xr1s off immediately and save them for Huntsville and Warda because they wont make it almost anywhere else in central texas.
    If you are a fit biker with potentially a road background and lack confidence when things get chunky and "droppy" Get the 9.9 and slap a rigid post and some slightly faster tiress and rip it. You will be faster on every course on the 9.9 anyways if you are the latter.



    This^^

    Top Fuel is slack at 69.5 (with flip switch) compared to my Anthem at 71. Since when did 69 become steep?


    I would highly consider top fuel for my only bike, but because I now have an XTC Hardtail I can race, I a looking at a Sb4.5
    So if I am really enthusiastic about racing, but don't have my hopes up that I'll be on a podium any time soon, and want a good one bike quiver for the trails here in Texas as well as a bike that can race very well at any trail here in central Texas you'd say a Ex 9.9 over the RSL?

    I know that its not really a good value but if you, someone with race experience here, had to estimate at worst about how much % slower do you think an average racer would be on the Ex over the RSL for the average race here? I know to take whatever answer with many a grain of salt.

    I don't ever want to end up under biked anywhere here in texas. I love my trail rides but I also want to be as competitive as I can be in any race.

    This decision is killing me!

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    Top fuel with pike or fox 34 and a dropper will handle anything you throw at it and race like a bastard. Tires important too, Id ride 2.3 - 2.4 everywhere tbh.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Back2MTB View Post
    Top fuel with pike or fox 34 and a dropper will handle anything you throw at it and race like a bastard. Tires important too, Id ride 2.3 - 2.4 everywhere tbh.
    Mythical 2.6 tires too wide to race on even though plus junkies are out here swearing they are actually faster?

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    Plus tires feel slower and clumsy to me, definitely not my choice for racing competitively.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Back2MTB View Post
    Plus tires feel slower and clumsy to me, definitely not my choice for racing competitively.
    Agree... you will feel the difference, especially rolling on level smooth stuff. More surface area = more friction/drag

  72. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    So if I am really enthusiastic about racing, but don't have my hopes up that I'll be on a podium any time soon, and want a good one bike quiver for the trails here in Texas as well as a bike that can race very well at any trail here in central Texas you'd say a Ex 9.9 over the RSL?

    I know that its not really a good value but if you, someone with race experience here, had to estimate at worst about how much % slower do you think an average racer would be on the Ex over the RSL for the average race here? I know to take whatever answer with many a grain of salt.

    I don't ever want to end up under biked anywhere here in texas. I love my trail rides but I also want to be as competitive as I can be in any race.

    This decision is killing me!
    I'll make this easy for you. Get the Top Fuel.

    It will make you feel fast. It will make you want to ride fast. It is fast. You can ride 99% of trail in Texas except for some rogue endure lines on unsanctioned land. I do on my 100/100 bike.

    If you are worried about not being fast on the downs, don't be. With a good front tire, you can be in the hunt on Strava leaderboards if that is your thing. I'm up there with all of the State Enduro series riders I am friends with on my XC bike. Just don't go hucking to flat off anything that is taller than you are. You will be fine on "Picnic Drop". Even my hardtail is fine sending it off the drop in BMX loop.

    If you are spending that kind of money, you can also do what this Gentleman suggests in the off season:

    Quote Originally Posted by Back2MTB View Post
    Top fuel with pike or fox 34 and a dropper will handle anything you throw at it and race like a bastard. Tires important too, Id ride 2.3 - 2.4 everywhere tbh.
    This gentleman has the right idea.

    In fact, this may be my next bike.

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  73. #73
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    I have a 16 top fuel 9.8 I think it definitely fights outside it's weight class. I Just put on 2.35 Forekaster tires and have it set up with a 125mm dropper & wide ID carbon wheels. For only 100mm travel It climbs and descends great in the right hands.

    The 16 has all RockShox suspension and a lockout that actually works, the 17 I guess not so much. You can easily get this bike down to 22-23 lbs if that's your thing too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by newking View Post
    I have a 16 top fuel 9.8 I think it definitely fights outside it's weight class. I Just put on 2.35 Forekaster tires and have it set up with a 125mm dropper & wide ID carbon wheels. For only 100mm travel It climbs and descends great in the right hands.

    The 16 has all RockShox suspension and a lockout that actually works, the 17 I guess not so much. You can easily get this bike down to 22-23 lbs if that's your thing too.
    How much does your bike weight in current form?

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    My bathroom scale says 24lb with XT pedals, bontrager dropper, Forekaster 2.35 F/R, garmin mount, Eagle XX1, my wheelset is not the lightest probably 1750 gram set.

    With lighter wheels and no dropper could be at 22-23

    Quote Originally Posted by FJSnoozer View Post
    How much does your bike weight in current form?

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    What's the issue with the stepcast fork? I am seeing a lot of people online talking about removing the fork and swapping it for something beefier. If I end up not needing more than 100 mm of travel is there any other reason why this fork wouldn't work for someone? I don't seem to find much online about any specific issues with it over any other 100mm fork.

  77. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    What's the issue with the stepcast fork? I am seeing a lot of people online talking about removing the fork and swapping it for something beefier. If I end up not needing more than 100 mm of travel is there any other reason why this fork wouldn't work for someone? I don't seem to find much online about any specific issues with it over any other 100mm fork.
    The fork is supposed to be great. Its an innovation in XC racing forks. They cutout the legs to make space for boost hubs and a giant Rotor without having to make the crown wider and add flex. They actually made the crown narrower and the Stanchions and legs are 10mm closer together than the regular fox 32. The reg fox 32 is notoriously Flexy. I reckon the SC may be a little more stiffer/resistant to twisting than the regular float 32. It is far lighter because of these changes, a few others and the fact that the stanchions are shorter which is why it cannot be extended past 100. (neither can the new Sid).

    Although. If you are heavy and you are bombing rock gardens and drops (aka Austin terrain) you may want a stiffer fork. you don't need the additional travel, you may just want it. You could have both forks, or you could sell it "new take off" o used easily. It will be a highly desired fork (the stepcast). I ride a little on the "sendy" side which has me looking at the 34.

    A larger volume front tire alone will help the front fork a great deal in the chunk.
    On the XC side:
    XR2 2.35
    IKON EXO 2.35
    Forekaster 2.35 (actually smaller than 2.35)

    On the Trail side but still fast
    Nobby nic Snakesin 2.35
    Hans Dampf Hard compound Sakeskin 2.35 (my favorite)

    The fork is only rated for 2.3, but people have fit some of these tires. You may need to test fit.

  78. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by FJSnoozer View Post
    The fork is supposed to be great. Its an innovation in XC racing forks. They cutout the legs to make space for boost hubs and a giant Rotor without having to make the crown wider and add flex. They actually made the crown narrower and the Stanchions and legs are 10mm closer together than the regular fox 32. The reg fox 32 is notoriously Flexy. I reckon the SC may be a little more stiffer/resistant to twisting than the regular float 32. It is far lighter because of these changes, a few others and the fact that the stanchions are shorter which is why it cannot be extended past 100. (neither can the new Sid).

    Although. If you are heavy and you are bombing rock gardens and drops (aka Austin terrain) you may want a stiffer fork. you don't need the additional travel, you may just want it. You could have both forks, or you could sell it "new take off" o used easily. It will be a highly desired fork (the stepcast). I ride a little on the "sendy" side which has me looking at the 34.

    A larger volume front tire alone will help the front fork a great deal in the chunk.
    On the XC side:
    XR2 2.35
    IKON EXO 2.35
    Forekaster 2.35 (actually smaller than 2.35)

    On the Trail side but still fast
    Nobby nic Snakesin 2.35
    Hans Dampf Hard compound Sakeskin 2.35 (my favorite)

    The fork is only rated for 2.3, but people have fit some of these tires. You may need to test fit.
    Would 165lbs unloaded be considered heavy? Would I be worrying about damaging the SC going down rock gardens and going off drops or is the issue simply trying to avoid bottoming out too frequently.

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    This has nothing to do with bottoming out. Its actual flex in the fork from impacts and heavy braking. The higher volume tire will help it to rollover more and deflect vs getting hung up in the rocks. Again, I ride everything on 100mm Manitou marvel pro (32mm). My wife is on 90MM Sid which I will bump to 110 and upgrade to Charger soon. We have ridden and raced all over Texas, Sedona, Santa Fe, Bentonville on our bikes. including anything marked as double black. I walked a Large drop to flat on Hangover in Sedona that was featured in Nate Hills video . I also shred the rocky stuff with several people on Top Fuels 9.8s and they love them.

    Current XC bikes are amazing. Don't get talked into something your don't need. Just Good tires and a dropper is enough to totally transform them for Major trail duty.

    165 is not heavy, in fact you will probably do very well as a racer as your bike fitness very quickly improves over the season from racing and training. At 165, you can make tons of gains in 2 months, enough to be extremely competitive in Cat 3. Good luck!

  80. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    Would 165lbs unloaded be considered heavy? Would I be worrying about damaging the SC going down rock gardens and going off drops or is the issue simply trying to avoid bottoming out too frequently.
    Where do you get the idea that XC forks can't handle rock gardens and drops?

    Is stuff like this why most middle aged MTB riders are riding 140mm+ bikes on XC trails?

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  81. #81
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    Thanks to all involved with this thread! Great read and perspective regarding specifically Top Fuel being pressed into trail duty, which I'm considering myself
    This (light) frame with a 34 x 120 fork sounds like a good combo for me!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    Where do you get the idea that XC forks can't handle rock gardens and drops?

    Is stuff like this why most middle aged MTB riders are riding 140mm+ bikes on XC trails?

    Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
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  83. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    Where do you get the idea that XC forks can't handle rock gardens and drops?

    Is stuff like this why most middle aged MTB riders are riding 140mm+ bikes on XC trails?

    Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
    Listen to Duke. Go buy the Top Fuel and stop overthinking this decision. If you feel like you're struggling after getting the Top Fuel put a beefier tire on the front to get additional traction. I love the 2.35 Ikon, but if that isn't enough get the 2.35 Forekaster or 2.3 Nic. Both tires 3c exo and the Nic in Snakeskin. They're very good tires.
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

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    Lol, great point and pretty much thatís what I see every weekend. Seriously a good 29er hardtail can handle 75% of my So Cal trails. I donít race anymore but if I where wanting that option, I would get a Race build XC bike and just swap wheel sets and tires for trail riding, not as much for improvemed trail riding but to save the tread and not damage the racing tires and wheels before a race. I would also always to a few training rides on my race set up to acclamate prior to the race. I was never on an XC race podium but from my observation those races are won by strong climbers that have a bike that scrambles up the hill and gets knocked around on the descent.
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    Quote Originally Posted by splitendz View Post
    Agree... you will feel the difference, especially rolling on level smooth stuff. More surface area = more friction/drag
    Only for the same tire type.

    I removed 2.4 High Roller / 2.35 Hans Dampf from my trail bike and put ona 2.6 forekaster/ 2.6 rekon on wider wheels and the bike rolled faster. I attribute this to the tire weight/construction being a bigger impact that size. Those 2.6 are noticeably bigger.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

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    Random question as someone who is just now looking to get into the race scene.

    Are there any races or race types that are designed for trail bikes? It seems like all races are designed for a short travel xc bike or a burley enduro rig but not much in between.

    Something like an enduro race but the climbs are also timed and not just the descents, so you'd want a bike that can climb well and descend well, a good mid travel bike.

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    So it seems to me that the best thing to do is demo the TF. You already have an F-ex so you should have a reasonable idea of what a new one would feel like.

    The "trail bikes are more fun" thing everyone throws out is REALLY subjective. Disclaimer: I currently ride a '16 F-ex 9 (mainly because I got a screaming good deal on it). While the travel and slack geo is nice/fun on chunky descents, probably 75% of the time, I miss the snappy handling of a more XC oriented bike on our local trails (central VA).

  88. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    Random question as someone who is just now looking to get into the race scene.

    Are there any races or race types that are designed for trail bikes? It seems like all races are designed for a short travel xc bike or a burley enduro rig but not much in between.

    Something like an enduro race but the climbs are also timed and not just the descents, so you'd want a bike that can climb well and descend well, a good mid travel bike.
    Something like this?

    40 in the Fort being replaced with enduro format race for 2018

    I must admit that I'm confused about your continued insistence that XC bikes don't descend well. Looking at the times for that course, all of the uphill segments are owned by XC racers, and at least three of the four downhill segments are topped by XC racers.

    I guess, sure, a trail bike might go down hill better than an XC bike, depending on the rider. Fast people are fast regardless of the bike, but choose the best bike for that particular application.
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  89. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    Something like this?

    40 in the Fort being replaced with enduro format race for 2018

    I must admit that I'm confused about your continued insistence that XC bikes don't descend well. Looking at the times for that course, all of the uphill segments are owned by XC racers, and at least three of the four downhill segments are topped by XC racers.

    I guess, sure, a trail bike might go down hill better than an XC bike, depending on the rider. Fast people are fast regardless of the bike, but choose the best bike for that particular application.
    Not so much that XC bikes can't descend but I figure something like a true enduro race but with timed uphill sections as well. Long gnarly descents and also rather difficult climbs. But I guess if any race is including timed uphills would favor an XC bike since you spend more time and effort climbing to the same height you'd descend from.

    But yeah something like the race you mentioned. I guess I am just a sad camper that a trail bike doesn't really seem to have it's place in the race world other than for those looking solely to dabble.

  90. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    ... but the climbs are also timed and not just the descents, so you'd want a bike that can climb well and descend well, a good mid travel bike.
    This is cross country racing. As soon as you time the climbs you want a fast light bike. I use my 5" Santa Cruz 5010 for enduro races and it does fine. At least for my skills it works. For XC racing sprint, endurance or team laps events I ride a 29er HT (Singlespeed or geared). For general riding I ride my 29er HT as it more fun than my heavier 5010. I use my trail bike as my downhill toy.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  91. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    I guess, sure, a trail bike might go down hill better than an XC bike, depending on the rider. Fast people are fast regardless of the bike, but choose the best bike for that particular application.
    Here is a case in point.

    Downhill strava segment - 4.5 Miles - 1,156ft Descending avg grade -5.0% - Bench cut rocky couple short pedal sections. No required jumps, but take skill to go fast and DH speed limited by rockiness

    my PR - Santa Cruz 5010- with dropper in timed enduro race - 21:39 - 12.6mph Avg - 21.5mph Max (136 of 1714 per strava, KOM is 16 min)
    my 2nd best - Vassago Verhauen - 29er Singlespeed - Last big downhill on a 48 mile ride. - pushing, but not 100% - 24:31 - 11.2 mph - 25.5 max (330 of 1714)

    Not sure I trust the max speed on both runs, but 1.5 mph average is not much to give up consider HT with fixed seatpost 71 deg head angle vs 130/125mm, 68 deg head angle and dropper and race vs just riding. I know on a climb there will be much bigger difference in way up that on the way down. I am sure the time gap would be smaller with even 100mm FS bike.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  92. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    Random question as someone who is just now looking to get into the race scene.

    Are there any races or race types that are designed for trail bikes? It seems like all races are designed for a short travel xc bike or a burley enduro rig but not much in between.

    Something like an enduro race but the climbs are also timed and not just the descents, so you'd want a bike that can climb well and descend well, a good mid travel bike.
    Just get a bike that you can ride fast. I prefer a bike that goes uphill well cuz going down is the easy part. Gravity and lay off the brakes. Some of my biggest wins in cat 1 in endurance races with lots of climbing and descending have been on fully rigid 29er set up with older 8 speed drivetrain. Because 8 speeds in plenty.

    Don't overthink this. Just go hahd kid.

  93. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    Not so much that XC bikes can't descend but I figure something like a true enduro race but with timed uphill sections as well. Long gnarly descents and also rather difficult climbs. But I guess if any race is including timed uphills would favor an XC bike since you spend more time and effort climbing to the same height you'd descend from.

    But yeah something like the race you mentioned. I guess I am just a sad camper that a trail bike doesn't really seem to have it's place in the race world other than for those looking solely to dabble.
    Pisgah Stage Race, Moab Rocks, Transylvania Epic, BCBR, Singletrack 6.

    Still just multi-day XC races.
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  94. #94
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    My E29 is my favorite bike to ride. I love climbing to the tops of the highest trails, and bombing down the biggest chunks I can find. Big drops, big jumps, big rocks, that's what I really love to ride as much as possible. And if I could only choose one bike to own between my 100mm XC HT carbon race bike, my 130mm FS trail bike, and my Enduro, I would choose:
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    The XC bike.

    The XC HT can do everything I ask of it. Does it bomb down trails slower than the 160mm Enduro? Yes, it does. But it still bombs down the trails. I can still go down the jump line at my local bike park or take 4' drops to flat on a tech enduro line. Just with a little more finesse on my part to get it done.

    A modern XC bike will far exceed the limits of 90% of the riders out there. It will exceed the limits of everyone racing Cat 2 or below, and most in Cat 1. The bike won't hold you back.

    Here is the same trail, with the same rider, taking the same obstacles. One is on a 160mm 29er Enduro, the other an XC HT. Only a minute long.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_g9BybEGHHU

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8nzd0TT9eg

    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    and at least three of the four downhill segments are topped by XC racers.
    My only counter argument would be, I rarely go for the fastest times on my enduro bike, I go for the best of times. Looking for the extra credit options that I avoid in race mode.
    Last edited by Sidewalk; 01-10-2018 at 06:57 PM.

  95. #95
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    Ya hard tails rule. Just so great for everything from my 40 mile round trip commute to work (mix of trail and pavement) to riding to the trails to ride, low maintenance, light, and they handle so precisely and predictably.

    I've owned all kinds of bikes over the last 30 years of riding and racing, full suss, HT, rigid, SS for many years. My current bike is a 2017 Specialized Epic expert World Cup Carbon HT and the thing absolutely rips everywhere. It's the lightest production MTB frame. Has proven to take a real beating as I broke my last HT after 9 months of use which was a 2016 Kona Honzo AL DL with some upgrades. I ride the same terrain on the Epic HT and due to the steeper HTA and lighter weight the Epic is way more nimble and flickable in tight techy terrain and it climbs like a friggin homesick angle. Descends amazing too. No need for a droppah post, IMO. Just adds weight and complexity. I'm. 5'11 165 lb and ride very rocky/rooty steep terrain mostly.

    Check em out.
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  96. #96
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    Top Fuel

    2017 Pike 120mm
    XTR brakes
    XTR derailleur
    xx1 cassette
    Monarch XX with HV can
    Bike yoke 120mm dropper
    DT swiss XMC1200 wheels
    bontrager xr3 front and rear

    From XC to 6 foot drops its done it all. This bike has done BC bike race, loads of endurance races, and XC racing. Things screams downhill and goes up pretty good as well!

    24.6 pounds
    How much of a disadvantage XC versus Trail Bike - Racing-jjjj.jpg
    Last edited by quicksilverta; 01-11-2018 at 05:18 AM.

  97. #97
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    Fuels are sick no doubt.

  98. #98
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    Quote Originally Posted by quicksilverta View Post
    Top Fuel

    2017 Pike 120mm
    XTR brakes
    XTR derailleur
    xx1 cassette
    Monarch XX with HV can
    Bike yoke 120mm dropper
    DT swiss XMC 1900 wheels
    bontrager xr3 front and rear

    From XC to 6 foot drops its done it all. This bike has done BC bike race, loads of endurance races, and XC racing. Things screams downhill and goes up pretty good as well!

    24.6 pounds
    Click image for larger version. 

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    That's a damn awesome build. Knowing that weight with the stuff done. you got me thinking lol
    Too Many .

  99. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by hardmtnbiker View Post
    Lol, great point and pretty much thatís what I see every weekend. Seriously a good 29er hardtail can handle 75% of my So Cal trails. I donít race anymore but if I where wanting that option, I would get a Race build XC bike and just swap wheel sets and tires for trail riding, not as much for improvemed trail riding but to save the tread and not damage the racing tires and wheels before a race. I would also always to a few training rides on my race set up to acclamate prior to the race. I was never on an XC race podium but from my observation those races are won by strong climbers that have a bike that scrambles up the hill and gets knocked around on the descent.
    Yup, I have an Anthem 29 which is 100/100. I've taken that bike everywhere and point it down hill as fast as it will go.

    I bought an XTC carbon Hardtail frame to race most of the easiest stuff. I finding myself riding this bike everywhere anyways. including the gnarly stuff. Its just so much fun to ride and the acceleration is addicting. It was perfectly comfortable hitting a 5 foot drop this past. I was going 18 mph mind you which helps, but the idea is you can do it. I wouldn't roll off a 5 footer at 2 mph and "drop to flat."

    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    Not so much that XC bikes can't descend but I figure something like a true enduro race but with timed uphill sections as well. Long gnarly descents and also rather difficult climbs. But I guess if any race is including timed uphills would favor an XC bike since you spend more time and effort climbing to the same height you'd descend from.

    But yeah something like the race you mentioned. I guess I am just a sad camper that a trail bike doesn't really seem to have it's place in the race world other than for those looking solely to dabble.
    1. Enduro races are not times up hills. You have a time you need to get to the check point but it is Sloooow.

    Don't be sad you have options.

    The only thing about an XC that cant descend is the person on the saddle. Tires are a limiting factor because physics. That's a cheap fix!

    Look at any strava segment on any trail you ride. the top 20 is going to be filled with Fast guys on big bikes and Fast Cross country racers. I don't want to go posting a bunch of strava segments to prove a point, But if you look at any trail, that's who is on it. You probably just don't know who these people are yet. Texas is pretty pedally even downhill segments. Fitness goes a long way.

    Look at the local enduro series. Many of the features in those races that are the most challenging are cause by people not being able to have enough speed to clear a double or a gap. Tell me how an XC bike doesn't actually improve this situation. Sure there are segments with drops, that you would prefer more travel, but they can be ridden on an XC rig.


    There are Gnarly stage races where Trail bikes are good to have and protect your body. I would still take the XC bike for the ease of climbing. I won the 1 lap at the Lake Georgetown - Dragon Slayer on my anthem 100/100. The guys that won the three lap were on steel single speed hardtails.

    Quote Originally Posted by quicksilverta View Post
    Top Fuel
    2017 Pike 120mm
    XTR brakes
    XTR derailleur
    xx1 cassette
    Monarch XX with HV can
    Bike yoke 120mm dropper
    DT swiss XMC1200 wheels
    bontrager xr3 front and rear
    From XC to 6 foot drops its done it all. This bike has done BC bike race, loads of endurance races, and XC racing. Things screams downhill and goes up pretty good as well!
    24.6 pounds
    ]
    Is this the 9.8 frame or the 9.9 all carbon?

    Weight with pedals
    Last edited by FJSnoozer; 01-11-2018 at 01:43 PM.

  100. #100
    Anytime. Anywhere.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    Pisgah Stage Race, Moab Rocks, Transylvania Epic, BCBR, Singletrack 6.

    Still just multi-day XC races.
    I watched some BCBR last summer, and there was everything from steep XC hardtails to Knolly Wardens (150/160).
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

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