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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.

  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..

  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 05:51 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.
    "Back off, man. I'm a scientist." - Dr. Peter Venkman

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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.

  13. #13
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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

  14. #14
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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.
    "Back off, man. I'm a scientist." - Dr. Peter Venkman

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  21. #21
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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

    Riding in Helena? Everything you need to know, right here.

  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.

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