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  1. #1
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    I'm indecisive: spearfish vs ti hardtail

    I am interested in a race-able "everday" bike.

    I tend to do a few races a year... but currently have a steel hardtail SS, and a 30lb trail rig. I end up racing the trail rig with a light set of tires... but not ideal.

    My budget is limited... trying to do a nice bike on the cheap if there is such a thing..... basically put my money in to frame and wheels, I have a Reba and other bits.

    Currently eyeing a Salsa Spearfish (can get a deal on last year model frame), or a Ti Hardtail... the races/rides I do tend to be the longer ones, endurance xc.

    How "comfortable" is a Ti hardtail ... (I know this is subjective, but assume a reputable company and build ~Salsa El Mariachi Ti or similar) compared to something like a Spearfish with 80mm. Is the 2lbs on the Spearfish over the Ti hardtail worth the bit of travel over a long race/ride?

    Thoughts?

    Thanks, I'm indecisive.

  2. #2
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    i have rode/raced hardtail for a while (years) and bought a salsa big mama when they were selling cheap. having timed myself round a regular traing loop i concuded the big mama was faster than a light carbon hardtail despite the extra weight. the difference in comfort was huge. i was faster again on my ss hardtail but thats another story and i was battered by the end of the ride:-)
    i now have a spearfish, don't kid yourself that any hardtail will be as comfortable the 80mm makes a big difference. i would definitely get the spearfish.

  3. #3
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    I've never ridden the Spearfish, or Ti, so my opinion probably doesn't mean much, but my answer would be "yes"

    I'm currently on a 29HT for racing, and as fast as it is, I really would prefer a good pedaling short travel FS 29er. I agree that weight is not always the trump factor we make it out to be, and with longer races, comfort and fatigue are real factors.
    I did a 40 mile marathon race on my HT, and while it did the job, I know I would have felt better at the end if I was on a FS. HT riders use alot of energy letting their bodies absorb the irregularities of the trail.
    I rode a local trail yesterday that is quite tame by most standards, and on top of it, b/c of some moisture we got last weekend (ending our 12 hour race early) the course was like pavement...I still thought, a FS 29er would be better.

  4. #4
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    Yes, it's worth the 2 lbs.

    The Spearfish is a great all around bike that is relatively agile and it does a great job of taking the roughness out of the trail. The draw back is, that it's not as agile, or quick as a HT. Something else to consider, I don't own a Ti bike, but I've always looked at them as something you can ride for a life time. The Spearfish, in my opinion, might end up being a shorter lived frame. I've yet to hear of a failure yet, but they are using a flexing aluminum seat stay and time/miles may take it toll. FYI: I own a Spearfish and a Carbon HT, I like them both but the Spearfish definitely gets ridden more.

  5. #5
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    I have the ti el mariachi, and my father has the spearfish. Every now and then we swap bikes. my el mar is more agile and "snappier" but also noticeably rattles your brains in comparison to the spearfish. I love my el mar and prefer it to the spearfish, but they're both superb bikes and a blast to ride.

    I think you'll be more comfortable on the spearfish for endurance, but not exceedingly so.

  6. #6
    PeT
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    Quote Originally Posted by grizzler View Post
    I think you'll be more comfortable on the spearfish for endurance, but not exceedingly so.
    I believe there have been some thoughtful and worthy answers given here, and I hope mine will be too, but I will pretty much give the opposite opinion. It's my observation and operating hypothesis that a hard tail (or in my case a rigid) is a better endurance bike and a full suspension is a better XC race bike. For grinding out the miles of an endurance race (the ones I've done have been in the Rockies -- Laramie Enduro, Leadville, Firecracker 50, Durango) at the speeds and terrain they utilize, a hard tail (but for me I'll even say rigid) is more efficient at transforming biological watts into rolling watts -- even "efficient" modern suspension designs rob a lot of watts over the course of 70 to 100 miles. To me, those watts are the difference between comfort (fewer watts from start to finish) and being worn-out. Now when it comes to XC racing, the increased speed (everything ridden 10% faster at least) and (usually) the rougher terrain it takes place on -- that's when the full suspension bike really shines: you corner faster, descend faster, and the few extra watts expended due to suspension losses are irrelevant. I get hammered by my friends in the local XC race series (they're usually both technically superior and on full suspension bikes), but they in turn can't touch me at the true endurance races. Okay, some of it may be bizarre physiology that allows me to actually be faster after racing for 6 hours. But I also believe that the lack of suspension is far less of a cost to efficiency and comfort at that point than hauling that extra 2 pounds of bobbing/squeaking/energy-robbing mechanical material over hill and dale. So...for true endurance racing (6 or more hours), I still believe a hard tail ends up being faster (and that can certainly be terrain dependent). But I am eyeing a full suspension set-up for the local XC race series...
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

  7. #7
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    There is a crazy price difference in the two frames. Get a ti FS.

  8. #8
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    There is no substitute for rear suspension.

  9. #9
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    My opinion is "YES!" also, but....

    I would ultimately measure your decision on your terrain. If it is relatively smooth like most of the midwest or not a lot of technical sections or consistent roots with plenty of climbing. I would choose a Ti hardtail. I haven't rode the Salsa El mariachi (Lynskey Ridgeline) but I did just purchase a Lynskey Pro29 SL SS, and I am a current owner of a Santa Cruz Tallboy Carbon. The Spearfish will leave you fresher in longer events, but you may suffer by having to work harder, and not be quite as fast or efficient.

    When the trail is rougher, I prefer the comfort of the Tallboy, but a properly set up Ti hardtail is pretty comfortable compared to aluminum, and setup properly with money well invested will blow away a mediocre FS for a racer. Compared to steel, I think you have to pick between two things unless you go custom. Light and flexy, or heavy and stiff. With titanium, its light, stiff where it needs to be but not heavy. Better dampening than carbon, but more weight.

    The biggest problem I see though is that you stated your budget is limited. You have put some money into a Ti bike to get the most from it. The Spearfish...not so much. Its a light platform in comparison to other FS 29ers, and more of a do-it-all bike compared to a HT.

    Like others implied....the spearfish will pretty much be a temporary bike in the long term scheme of things. Chances are, you will hold onto a titanium bike for a long time..so you have to think of it as an investment over a solution for a bike for now and this racing season. Also consider, and the biggest reason I didn't consider the Ridgeline 29 was the rear tire clearance being limited to a 2.1. The Salsa El Mar Ti suffers the same problem, the Vassago Optimus Ti, and Haro variety the same. I think comfort on a hardtail relies more on tire volume and size... This was a huge reason why I retired my 2009 Salsa Selma to a 1x10 as a more of a "multi-use" bike for levee rides, commute, and trail to trail endurance rides we do in the area where I will be spending time on the road. I think if you are going to consider titanium, it will probably be something you fall in love with, and think of it as "long term" and approach your purchasing decision as such. You don't want to short change yourself on such an investment, and you want to make sure it does everything for you that you want it to.
    Santa Cruz Tallboy carbon
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  10. #10
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    My debate was between a Scott carbon HT and the Spearfish. While the carbon was light and very responsive I got the spearfish it handles everything I throw at it, climbs with the very best of them, doesn't kill my back and now weighs 26.7lb with a mostly stock build. Love the bike. Funny some say the rear feels like a soft tail but I find it very well suited to rocky rooty terrain.

    Today at the trail head talked with a guy looking at my bike compared to his epic he likes how it pedals like his epic but stays very active in the rough. Also he was impressed with the weight for the price.

  11. #11
    AOK
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    Quote Originally Posted by dubdryver View Post
    rear tire clearance being limited to a 2.1. The Salsa El Mar Ti suffers the same problem
    This is incorrect. The El Mar Ti can handle up to a 2.3" rear tire according to Salsa. I own one and will say that appears accurate, although I have not tried anything larger than a 2.2". FWIW, it is also inaccurate to say the El Mar Ti is the same as a Lynskey Ridgeline. Lynskey manufactures the El Mar, but it is a different tube set and geometry than the Ridgeline.

    As for the OP's question, I own both a El Mariachi Ti and a Spearfish. Both are great bikes and handle fairly similar. The El Mar is comfortable for a hardtail, but is still a hardtail. The Spearfish is a much better all day bike. If you can only have one, I would suggest you will be happier with the Spearfish. More versatile, comfortable, cheaper, and will still make a great race bike.

    One comment on weight... I'm not sure a Ti frame will be 2 lbs lighter than the Spearfish unless you get a fairly high end Ti frame (i.e. Moots). My large Spearfish was more like 1.3 lbs heavier than the El Mar Ti. I know there is not a huge difference between 1.3 and 2 lbs, but 0.7 lbs is a big difference if you are going all weight weenie.

  12. #12
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    Great feedback folks, thanks. I think what's caught my attention is the "long term plan" ... I'm leaning toward the Ti hardtail as a go-to race bike I can see having for many years. I don't race that much.

    cheers...

  13. #13
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    My bud just test rode the spear fish, the tall boy, and a few more. Ended up buying the BMC SF 29er.

    Great bike, great components, trail and race ready.

    The fork is a Recon Gold TK. Drop in a motion control and the bike should be good as gold

  14. #14
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    My thinking was Ti Hardtail and long-travel full suspension. If you're going to add weight for suspension, might as well have a lot of it IMO. I bought the Selma Ti and will be building up some sort of AM full suspension bike when a good deal comes my way. Likely a Kona Satori or a Lenz something or other if I can get the scratch together.
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