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  1. #1
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    Which Long-Travel 29er Hard Tail?

    I've narrowed the field down to 3:

    Transition TransAm29
    Kona Honzo
    Canfield Nimble9

    Quick comparison chart:


    Here's what I'm after:
    Long travel - 120mm+
    Short(er) chainstays
    Steel frame
    Playful trail manners
    Ability to run SS

    The goal of this bike is to break away from the XC-race geo of the Niner MCR9 I currently have, and get something more agressive, playful, and fun overall. Don't get me wrong, I love the Niner but I'm moving away from racing and into just having fun on the trail so I'd like a bike with more aggressive trail manners.

    All are Large frames except the Honzo which, based on the geo numbers, appears I sould be best suited to a Medium frame (I'm 6'...6'1" on a good day).

    I've been telling myself for months that the TransAm29 is the way to go but the more I look at it, the Honzo looks really damn good too. Also, I can get a Honzo from my LBS, possibly even get one in to demo before I buy. With the others, I'd be forced to buy sight-unseen which actually hasn't been an issue for me in the past but with 3 frames so similar in geo, it sure would be nice to toss a leg over each of 'em first.

    I'm kinda ruling the Nimble9 out at this point for a few reasons. 1. 135x10 rear end. I may be putting more stock into this than I should but I would rather my purpose-built bike have the stiffest rear triangle possible. 2. lack of ISCG tabs. Not a deal breaker, but I'm definitely running a 1x10 drivetrain and I'm not gonna be babying this bike on the trail. If I see an obstacle I'm going over it, not around it, if I can. Sure, I could run a BB-mounted guide, but those are more trouble than what they're worth. 3. BB drop. I can't seem to find the actual BB height on the N9 and the TA29, but the drop #'s tell me the N9 is lower than the TA29, and I'm not big into pedal strikes.

    All this being said, I elevate the TA29 to the top of my list, over the Honzo.

    The TA29 has it all - 44mm headtube, ISCG tabs, swappable dropouts, slack 'n compact geometry, fat rear tire...the only 2 knocks I give it when comparing to the Honzo is the slightly longer chain stays and .5 degree steeper HTA. Plus, if I did want to race, I have the option of slapping a FD on...still purpose built but with more versatility.

    So, there it is.

    Yes, I looked at the Yelli to which I say...sorry, steel only.

    Which way would you direct me to go and why?

  2. #2
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    What size Niner do you ride? I ride a large SIR9 and my Honzo is also a large. The Honzo has a longer ETT but with a shorter stem (65mm vs 100mm) it is still more upright than the Niner. (I'm 6'1" tall).

  3. #3
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    My MCR is a Large.

    I run a 90mm stem...love the fit, love the ride. Nothing wrong with it at all, just want something different. ;-)

  4. #4
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    Definitely Honzo. Best value currently for a cromoly AM hardtail frame, awesome geometry, shortest CS, and a stout rear-end for a steel frame. What's not to like?

    And I would really think twice about the medium, IMO the Honzo rides a lot smaller than ETT and reach suggests.
    konahonzo

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by eurospek View Post
    Definitely Honzo. Best value currently for a cromoly AM hardtail frame, awesome geometry, shortest CS, and a stout rear-end for a steel frame. What's not to like?

    And I would really think twice about the medium, IMO the Honzo rides a lot smaller than ETT and reach suggests.
    As I understand it, you've gone through a similar process and you landed on the Honzo.

    That said, of course you're a bit biased, and I'm ok with that, but what were the deciding factors for you?

    I *do* like everything the Honzo offers...I'm not 100% sure on the low(ish) BB and lack of FD mount in case I wanted to go 2x...

  6. #6
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    What about a Chromag Surface or Rootdown?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshM View Post
    What about a Chromag Surface or Rootdown?
    Yeah, it would be great if you told us about this..
    Last edited by Max24; 03-08-2015 at 10:48 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshM View Post
    What about a Chromag Surface or Rootdown?
    hmmm...the Surface looks pretty dang good.

    Wondering if a 2.4" can fit on the rear with that 3-piece yoke?

    some quick searching...the Surface is nearly 3 times the price of the Honzo frame?? seems as though, like eurospek said, the Honzo is the best *value* going right now.
    Last edited by jimithng23; 02-09-2013 at 04:51 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by eurospek View Post
    Definitely Honzo. Best value currently for a cromoly AM hardtail frame, awesome geometry, shortest CS, and a stout rear-end for a steel frame. What's not to like?

    And I would really think twice about the medium, IMO the Honzo rides a lot smaller than ETT and reach suggests.
    I agree. My buddy is riding one in a large and he's 6' also.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimithng23 View Post
    some quick searching...the Surface is nearly 3 times the price of the Honzo frame?? seems as though, like eurospek said, the Honzo is the best *value* going right now.
    Yeah, unless they've changed, the Surface frames are welded by Chris Dekerf. Hence the price.

    I'd agree the Honzo is pretty hard to beat value wise at the moment.
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  11. #11
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    Re: Which Long-Travel 29er Hard Tail?

    New nimble 9 just xame out and looks inxreadible. Also check out the chromag rootdown. Coming out soon as well.

    I love the 2012 honzo in blue but think they ruined its good looks for 2013

    Sent from my GT-I9100 using Tapatalk 2

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by evasive View Post
    Yeah, unless they've changed, the Surface frames are welded by Chris Dekerf. Hence the price.
    I love the quality and unique nature of hand welded frames; I've got a Lenz in the quiver. ;-)

    However, when I started down this path of replacing the Niner frame, my goal was to get out of the woods with the cost of the frame, fork upgrade, and a few other misc parts kept at a reasonable amount. The 3 frames I listed fit that bill, for the most part.

    That said, the Surface will now constantly be on my mind!

    Yes, the new Nimble 9 does look incredible. But for me looks is about as far as it goes. I'm ruling it out for: no ISCG tabs and 135 rear spacing. Right, wrong, or indifferent...I'm sure it's an awesome bike but those 2 features are top priorities on the "must have" list.

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    Re: Which Long-Travel 29er Hard Tail?

    Sorry forgot your comment on the icg tabs. The rootdown is an impor i beleive, the aim is to have the characteristics of the surface but not and the hand built in ca price. Been a couple months since i looked at it but it comes out soon and was pretty reasonable price wise. Not sure about icg tabs and rear axle stats but worth having a look.

    Again love the look of last years honzo and hear nothing but good things about its ride.

    Sent from my GT-I9100 using Tapatalk 2

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    Re: Which Long-Travel 29er Hard Tail?

    Update rootdown is 800 and has icg. Looks awesome but so does honzo, just throwing another option out

    Sent from my GT-I9100 using Tapatalk 2

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steineken View Post
    Again love the look of last years honzo and hear nothing but good things about its ride.
    I nearly pulled the trigger on a 2012 Honzo but couldn't rationalize it as last year was my first season on a new build. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), the 2013 Honzo and its excrementitious finish won't be tempting me.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by hdparrish View Post
    I nearly pulled the trigger on a 2012 Honzo but couldn't rationalize it as last year was my first season on a new build. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), the 2013 Honzo and its excrementitious finish won't be tempting me.
    I totally agree about the Honzo finish. The 2012 blue looks great and I was considering one before i got my Canfield. The 2013 looks really lame.

  17. #17
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    The Surface is hand welded in BC out of high grade tubing. Hence the large price tag.
    The Rootdown was built as a cheaper, asian built, brother to the Surface. Still steel, and similar geo.

  18. #18
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    Why are you ruling out the Yelli? I got one in December (XL with a 120 mm Fox 34 CTD and all Shimano XT), and I have to say it's the most fun bike I've ever owned (and -- believe it or not -- this includes my Ibis Mojo HD 140). I weigh 230, and the bike is plenty stiff for me. Have you ridden one?

  19. #19
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    Which Long-Travel 29er Hard Tail?

    What about the carver ti 420?

    SPP
    Rigid.

  20. #20
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    Which Long-Travel 29er Hard Tail?

    Quote Originally Posted by bareiss View Post
    Why are you ruling out the Yelli? I got one in December (XL with a 120 mm Fox 34 CTD and all Shimano XT), and I have to say it's the most fun bike I've ever owned (and -- believe it or not -- this includes my Ibis Mojo HD 140). I weigh 230, and the bike is plenty stiff for me. Have you ridden one?
    OP specified a steel frame. Yelli is aluminum.
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    Re: Which Long-Travel 29er Hard Tail?

    If you look at aluminum options and cant get a yelli in your size check the banshee paradox. Great bike and chexks your boxes other than being aluminum. Love mine

    Sent from my GT-I9100 using Tapatalk 2

  22. #22
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    Which Long-Travel 29er Hard Tail?

    BTW- the most recent Dirt Rag had reviews of a bunch of these: Honzo, Carver, Mason, etc.
    "Back off, man. I'm a scientist." - Dr. Peter Venkman

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  23. #23
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    I had the opportunity to pick up a 2012 Honzo for $1300 last year and I didn't do it. I still kick myself over it.

  24. #24
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    get the trans am so you can have a granny gear.

    The TA29 has it all - 44mm headtube, ISCG tabs, swappable dropouts, slack 'n compact geometry, fat rear tire...the only 2 knocks I give it when comparing to the Honzo is the slightly longer chain stays and .5 degree steeper HTA. Plus, if I did want to race, I have the option of slapping a FD on...still purpose built but with more versatility.


    with a 140 fork. raise the bb slack the head tube.

  25. #25
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    .8" difference in chainstay length is not a subtle difference!
    .25 is noticeable. I went from a Yelli Screamy to a honzo, and the honzo is noticeably quicker in corners and easier to manual.

    So my advice, get the one with the shortest chainstays.

  26. #26
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    Yes, I saw that, but I don't buy into the mystique of steel. Aluminum or not, the Yelli is currently my favorite bike.

  27. #27
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    The Yelli is great, I loved mine for the 2 summers I had it. What's not to like about 1+lb lighter! And it has short stays. And it rides great even though it's aluminum, not too stiff.

    The Honzo is a bit heavier, quieter, lower, slacker, shorter back end. All subtle differences. Splitting hairs.

    for a 29'er hardtail, I'd skip anything with chainstays much over 16.5. Only because there are so many great options with shorter stays and it really does make a huge difference.

  28. #28
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    I have AL bikes and I have steel bikes. For HT riding, my preference is steel. I am in no way diminishing the Yelli Screamy's awesomeness; I lusted for this bike for quite some time but I believe I will be happier long term with a more compliant steel frame.

    I may poke Chromag and see what the timeline looks like for a frame, but I'm pretty confident I'm gonna demo a Honzo when my LBS gets one in stock and then go from there.

    Honzo #1
    TA29 a close #2
    #3 - everything else.

    'Preciate everyone's input...I'll keep this thread updated as I move forward.

  29. #29
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    I rode all the bike's/frame's you mention,
    I own the N9, TM29, Yelli and few other 29er HT frames.
    If I want to ride all day desert trip I will go with the TM29 (best AM frame).
    If I want few hours fun or soal ride anywhere (SS or geared, rigid or sus') the N9 is the way.
    If I want to keep with DH guy's, and have a real real fun I will go with the Yelli.
    I tried the Honzo, I don't know why but it's not my cup of tee... maybe not enough time on it.
    For my tast the Nimble is the best frame ever.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Which Long-Travel 29er Hard Tail?-img_2845_web.jpg  

    Which Long-Travel 29er Hard Tail?-img_6742_web.jpg  

    Which Long-Travel 29er Hard Tail?-img_5360_web.jpg  

    Which Long-Travel 29er Hard Tail?-img_2550-large-.jpg  

    Last edited by esku; 02-11-2013 at 08:44 AM.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by esku View Post
    TM29 (best AM frame).
    If you're into 17"+ chainstay lengths then sure, best AM frame indeed.

    I never really bothered with the TransAM 29 when I was shopping for a 29er frame last winter, mainly because I wasn't really stoked by my TransAM 26er after that new bike feeling has worn off for me in the year of ownership I had with it before the seat tube developed a crack. Plus Transition's cockpit size tends to run super tight and cramped. Started with a 50mm stem and ended being comfortable with a 80mm on it.

    If I was building again this year, (and money would be no object to spend on a hardtail frame), I would love a first generation Chromag Surface (before they went with the modular dropout system that's coming out in production run #2 this spring). There's something about it that appeals to me, clean lines, good frame geometry, best tubing from all the bikes mentioned (Reynolds vs your basic 4130 cromoly tubesets) massive tire clearance, and you could build it fully decked out with Chromag bits as well. Overall, I love Chromag's company philosophy and what they represent, but want to know why I didn't get one last spring? I just couldn't stomach the $1500 for one, I was pretty close to buying one though and even was on the waiting list and they wanted my monies, I'm just not on that level yet to be spending $1500 on a hardtail frame. But that price is mostly due to being welded by Chris DeKerf as mentioned, but for me, that was the last deciding factor really as I couldn't care less if it was welded in BC, I would gladly pay $800 on the same frame that's welded in the same factory in Taiwan where Chromag does their other 'budget' frames.

    For me it really came down to $ like I mentioned, where I blew over my budget on the fork and got real lucky liking the Kona Honzo where $ was saved. For the price of a Chromag Surface, I bought a brand new Kona Honzo (lifetime warranty was an added bonus too after my Transition debacle), along with a brand new Fox Float 34 FIT RLC in coveted black for $899, and had $100 left over for a headset and a Chromag QR clamp.

    The upcoming Chromag Rootdown looks good, but the 24.4" ETT isn't going to cut it for tall people like myself, especially after falling in love with my Honzo's fit and 26" ETT, there's something about it that makes me smile every time I throw my leg over it and go for a ride.

    Another dream frame of mine is the 2Souls QH, a little cheaper than the Chromag Surface, but even heavier than the Kona Honzo, a true Alpine-style riding frame. Look it up and see if you'll like it, it's a small German company, built in house from custom Reynolds tubing, and they are super friendly and easy to get answers from. After I gave up on the Chromag Surface, I found out about these guys, at the time, the 2Souls Slim-Jim frame was offered for around $1K which was easier to stomach than $1,5K but again due to sizing reasons, I gave up on waiting for the XXL to be produced. Their XL was too similar to my previous TransAM 26er which was way too small. Luckily no XXL (similar to the 20" Long Honzo) has been still produced (because I would be mighty tempted to buy) and I have a feeling it will never happen anyway since they are a super small company, no massive interest in XXL, and they have other projects to get going with like their 650b frame.

    So what frame would I buy if something happened to my beloved 2012 Honzo? I would I be on a Kona Honzo again without even thinking twice about it. As much as I love my 2012 blue frameset, the 2013 retro raw gold finish with orange decals has really grown on me as well, paired with a white Fox 34 Float, some Renthal Fatbars, you'd have a killer looking All-Mountain hardtail that sports the shortest CS lengths, awesome dialed geo, and is just a hoot to ride!!!!
    konahonzo

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by bareiss View Post
    Yes, I saw that, but I don't buy into the mystique of steel. Aluminum or not, the Yelli is currently my favorite bike.
    I chose a Nimble over the Yelli just because of the sliders giving the ability to run it SS wihtout a tensioner. Starting to think about selling some other frames and picking up an old stock Yelli to have one of each. You cannot overemphasize how much fun these short chainstay bikes are, whether you're riding big drops or carving tight singletrack.
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  32. #32
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    I recently purchased a 2012 Honzo frame and built it up single speed. I couldn't be happier. It climbs extremely well for what's considered a more downhill oriented bike. So well, in fact, that I haven't touched my XC hardtail since I built the Honzo up.

    The low bottom bracket isn't an issue. I'm more mindful of where my pedals are in rocky sections, but I haven't had any problems with hitting rocks. The low bb and steep seat angle are what makes this bike climb so well. No front end wandering on steep climbs at all.

    And of course it flat out rips downhill, as you'd expect. I have no doubt the Yelli Screamy is every bit the awesome bike people say it is, but If I had to do it over again I'd get the Honzo in a second.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by i.a.n. View Post
    I recently purchased a 2012 Honzo frame and built it up single speed. I couldn't be happier. It climbs extremely well for what's considered a more downhill oriented bike. So well, in fact, that I haven't touched my XC hardtail since I built the Honzo up.

    The low bottom bracket isn't an issue. I'm more mindful of where my pedals are in rocky sections, but I haven't had any problems with hitting rocks. The low bb and steep seat angle are what makes this bike climb so well. No front end wandering on steep climbs at all.

    And of course it flat out rips downhill, as you'd expect. I have no doubt the Yelli Screamy is every bit the awesome bike people say it is, but If I had to do it over again I'd get the Honzo in a second.
    I get that same kind of behavior out of my Nimble 9, you stand up and it goes up. I didn't expect that but it seems to want to climb - at least as long as I can turn the pedals. That's a new experience for me with a 29er. Neither the Spot or Salsa I rode acted that way, with the difference being the short chainstays and slack head angle - and it's gotta be the difference that makes the difference.
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  34. #34
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    The ability to test ride the Honzo should put it above the others.

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    Seen the Zealous Division?

    Chainstays don't get any shorter than that!

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshM View Post
    The ability to test ride the Honzo should put it above the others.
    i agree. Hurry up and test ride it so you can take it off your list....

  37. #37
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    To the OP, I've been considering the same bikes. But, right now, my favorite choices are the 2souls mentioned by eurospec (not easy to get in the US), and RSD cycles which is a new company but frames will be available in a couple of months last I heard.

    Both those choices use Reynolds 853. If you want steel, why not get the tastiest steel?

    Other choices I considered were Ragley and On One.
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    Another Gen2 N9 owner here. I put a 140mm fork on it and absolutely love the bike.

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