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  1. #1
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    Looking for a plush confidence inspiring bike that still pedals well uphill.

    Hey everyone! I am looking for the Unicorn bike, a plush easy to pedal bike.

    I am coming from a XC bike a Lapierre Xr729. Its great for going fast on smooth trails, but its a harsh ride, and brutal on even intermediate runs. Just very bouncy and twitchy.

    I have had to chance to ride a 2015 Intense Tracer 275C and I loved it for both climbing and going down, it felt like I was hovering over everything, super smooth and plush.

    After that I started to look at the Intense Carbine thinking it may be similar to the older tracer but in a 29er. From what I have read its good, but really favors fast riding and it not as sensitive to slower smaller bumps.

    I live in SLC, UT so most of what I do is long climbs and super fun long downhills.

    I am 44, 5'10" short legs long torso and 225lbs. I am an intermediate rider at best and looking for something that will build confidence going into more technical trails.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Take a look at either the Spot Mayhem or Rollik. I have the Rollik 607. Best FS climber I've ever ridden and plush going down as well.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenSLC View Post
    Hey everyone! I am looking for the Unicorn bike, a plush easy to pedal bike.
    Thanks!
    You're going to get plenty of riders chiming in to say, "I've got a Blankity Blank and it's awesome!" and in a moment I'm about to give you the same jive. It's cool but you have to take such statements with a grain of salt because we all tend to want to back up the choices/investments we've made. But there's usually plenty of truth in such statements. We do love our bikes, but we haven't ridden everything.

    Before I tell you what I ride (and am happy with), I'll tell you that the plushest FS sled I ever owned was a DW link bike (Turner Sultan). I could not believe how plush the suspension felt yet I never felt it bob even while hard climbing. But that frame had a lot of pivot points and developed quite a bit of rear end slop.

    I have a buddy with a Pivot brand bike (DW) and whoa that thing looks well put together. He does amazing things with it. I'd consider one of those if the geo was more to my liking.

    Now, as promised, to my thing. I'm actually between FS frames for a few weeks but the only reason I sold my Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol is because it was slightly smaller than I wanted. (So I ordered a larger GG frame... waiting impatiently.) Anyway these (Horst link) bikes climb like a scalded monkey and descend like a pent up prom date. Want plush? Order yours with a coil shock. Confidence inspiring, you say? Done.
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  4. #4
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    Im partial to the short and mid travel 29rs for do it all bikes. Id look at an Evil The Following MB or the V1 (if you can find one), the Riply LS, Pivot 429 Trail Transition Smuggler, Devinci Django 29 and the Intense Primer. They all pedal and climb well and do most everything with composure. The Evil is debatably the best descender, very supple off the top and supportive and deep for a 120 bike. Any one of these bikes are worthy but Im partial to the Evil having owned the #58 frame for three and a half years now.


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  5. #5
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    I would also recommend looking at the Canfield Riot, Ibis Ripmo, and the new SC 5010 (if you are looking for a 27.5).

    The Riot is both a capable climber and confident descender. It works well with both a coil and air shock, allowing for some additional customization of the bike's feel. Even though it is listed as a 142 rear end, using a slightly longer axle will allow you to run a boost hub just fine. A medium frame should fit you fine and can be had new for $1000 with a DVO Topaz, or for an additional $100 with a DVO Jade, making it one of the best value frames available. However, the frame is on the heavier side. I find the geo to be spot on, with ultra-short CS (414mm), a steep STA (77), a slack HTA (66.5), and good reach (438mm size medium).

    The Ripmo is also a very competent climber and descender, as you would expect from a DW-Link bike. Improvements over the Riot are better tire clearance and a lighter/stiffer frame. Neutral differences are longer reach/wheelbase, longer CS, and more travel. Negatives are sub-optimal performance with coil shocks, and a much higher price. Definitely a great bike if you want something with a bit longer travel that has a very reasonable weight and don't mind paying more for it.

    While the SC 5010 is not directly comparable to the two bikes above, it is definitely woth a look if you are after a 27.5. I found it to be reasonably light and very agile, with excellent geo. It pedaled well and felt very confident at speed, but I personally prefer the improved rollover on 29ers.

    Both Spots look great, but I have not personally rode one so I cannot speak for their performance.

    Hope this info helps.

  6. #6
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    Coming from someone who is sort of looking for the same thing at the moment, but hasn't invested money in anything other than some rentals so I can get some good rides in on some of the bikes I'm looking at - so far, my favorite has been a Santa Cruz Hightower. And I'm of the opinion their bikes are a little over priced, but if I don't find something I like better, I may drop coin on one anyhow. I'm kind of waiting to see what happens with 2019 bikes though. See, for example, the new Sensor GT just announced.

  7. #7
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    As Sparticus stated, you will get lots of people that love their own bikes for plenty of good reasons. Demo as many bikes as possible and see what works for you. If you loved the '15 Tracer and it works for your trails, grab one. I have the Intense Primer. It is the best climbing bike I've ever ridden, but I had to make some changes to get a plusher ride including swapping out the original link for an Intense Recluse link, swapping out the original rear shock for a DPX2, and extending the front fork to 140. I went from 130/130 to 140/140. Even after the changes I had to play around with the Sag and rebound during a few rides to get the plush feel I was looking for on tech rides. I haven't ridden the GG (but hear great things), but have thrown my leg over a bunch of solid bikes including the Ripmo, Hightower, and Hightower LT. If I was buying a bike today and was looking for great climbing and a plush feel on technical trails out of the box I would go with the Hightower LT. I found it climbed as well as the HT but was significantly better on the downhills. Super plush but still fun in tight switchbacks. Also, you can't beat the Santa Cruz warranty on frame and carbon rims.

  8. #8
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    Kona process 111.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparticus View Post
    Anyway these (Horst link) bikes climb like a scalded monkey and descend like a pent up prom date. Want plush? Order yours with a coil shock. Confidence inspiring, you say? Done.
    =sParty
    I had to work out, for a moment, why a pent up prom date would be descending but thank you for giving me my first proper chuckle of the day sParty!

  10. #10
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    I would absolutely LOVE to have an Intense Carbine. But thats a bit of bike thats looking to party.

    Cant go wrong with Pivot or any DW bike either.

    Hell, honestly its hard to go wrong with any of the higher end bikes of today.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by drich View Post
    As Sparticus stated, you will get lots of people that love their own bikes for plenty of good reasons. Demo as many bikes as possible and see what works for you. If you loved the '15 Tracer and it works for your trails, grab one. I have the Intense Primer. It is the best climbing bike I've ever ridden, but I had to make some changes to get a plusher ride including swapping out the original link for an Intense Recluse link, swapping out the original rear shock for a DPX2, and extending the front fork to 140. I went from 130/130 to 140/140. Even after the changes I had to play around with the Sag and rebound during a few rides to get the plush feel I was looking for on tech rides. I haven't ridden the GG (but hear great things), but have thrown my leg over a bunch of solid bikes including the Ripmo, Hightower, and Hightower LT. If I was buying a bike today and was looking for great climbing and a plush feel on technical trails out of the box I would go with the Hightower LT. I found it climbed as well as the HT but was significantly better on the downhills. Super plush but still fun in tight switchbacks. Also, you can't beat the Santa Cruz warranty on frame and carbon rims.
    I'm in the same situation as the OP, so very interested in this thread. I was looking at the Intense Primer but after reading your post it's not re-assuring ! Unfortunately, there is no way for me to demo that bike. The latest models come with a Pike 140 & a 130-Monarch RT3.
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  12. #12
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    Ill just toss out my new favorite rig- Transition Smuggler.

  13. #13
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    Gravity Guerrilla Smash, Knolly Fugitive, Troy 29. I am building a Fugitive next month. Demoed one and was blown away. There is a metric shit tonne of bikes like this now

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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    Coming from someone who is sort of looking for the same thing at the moment, but hasn't invested money in anything other than some rentals so I can get some good rides in on some of the bikes I'm looking at - so far, my favorite has been a Santa Cruz Hightower.
    I was going to suggest demoing a bunch of bikes, and to start with the Hightower. The mid-travel bikes field (aka trail bikes, down country, light enduro, good lord to we like to label stuff...) is stacked these days. I'd suggest starting there because like a honda civic, it just works. Maybe it's the perfect bike for you, maybe you prefer something else, but it works and the geo is fairly mid-range by modern standards, and thus would be a great baseline.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by R_Pierce View Post
    Hell, honestly its hard to go wrong with any of the higher end bikes of today.
    This is so true. There's a dozen plus options today for $5k and less that you literally could not have purchased for any amount 10 years ago.

    Like TC I'm in the market to step up into my first full suspension bike, especially since recently I moved back home to the front range.

    A couple of weeks ago I demo'd a GG The Smash at Winter Park and was surprised, quite surprised, that with 140/140 mm squish front and back it felt just as solid as my 2013 hard tail 29er Yeti with 120 mm fork. Literally that cannot be true, but it sure felt like it. Well maybe it can now that I consider that 30 mm wide, boost wheels on The Smash might very well be measurably more stiff than my 21 mm wide old non-boost wheels.

    Regardless... I'm sure I would be equally as impressed on similar bikes from Spot, SC, Intense, Kona, Trek, Ibis, Fezzari, Alchemy, Specialized, YT, Canyon, Scott, BMC, Mondraker, Pivot, Yeti, Niner and another dozen I'm failing to recall.

    Sooooo... I'm trying to focus on value and general "good vibes" (admittedly 100% subjective) from the manufacturer. In the value department GG is kinda leading the pack for me at the moment. I can get a customized race spec Pistol from them for less than $5k.

    Don't get me wrong, $5k is nothing to sneeze at but in comparison to many other mfrs the brakes, forks, driveline, wheels, shocks, dropper and handlebars that I can easily select with GG are either not available (at all) or the build price is well north of $5k.

    Personally, based on employee feels alone, I'd like to purchase a 27.5 carbon Rollik from Spot and a 29 alu Trail Pistola from GG. But I can't cost justify that kinda cash outlay.

    There are far worse predicaments to find oneself in but choosing a single MB in this current market is fatiguing. In a good way.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ridetheridge View Post
    I'm in the same situation as the OP, so very interested in this thread. I was looking at the Intense Primer but after reading your post it's not re-assuring ! Unfortunately, there is no way for me to demo that bike. The latest models come with a Pike 140 & a 130-Monarch RT3.
    Don't get me wrong--the Primer is a great bike. I've done a number of 5-6+ hour rides with a ton of climbing where I really appreciated having a bike more on the XC side of things. It is also great in tight switchbacks and I love how playful it is. The specs on the newer models at 140/130 probably make for a smoother ride. But when I think of 'plush' I tend to think of bikes with more travel. But these things are so subjective, and changing sag or even tires has a big impact on the ride.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenSLC View Post
    Hey everyone! I am looking for the Unicorn bike, a plush easy to pedal bike.
    Here you go: https://www.tetongravity.com/story/b...ibis-ripley-ls

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by icelt View Post
    This is so true. There's a dozen plus options today for $5k and less that you literally could not have purchased for any amount 10 years ago.
    On top of this, you really can't go wrong. You may find that a bike isn't totally 'for you' but it is rare to find one that is actually bad.

    Quote Originally Posted by icelt View Post
    A couple of weeks ago I demo'd a GG The Smash at Winter Park and was surprised, quite surprised, that with 140/140 mm squish front and back it felt just as solid as my 2013 hard tail 29er Yeti with 120 mm fork. Literally that cannot be true, but it sure felt like it. Well maybe it can now that I consider that 30 mm wide, boost wheels on The Smash might very well be measurably more stiff than my 21 mm wide old non-boost wheels.

    There are far worse predicaments to find oneself in but choosing a single MB in this current market is fatiguing. In a good way. kinda leading the pack for me at the moment. I can get a customized race spec Pistol from them for less than $5k.
    This really is the beauty of GG. No one in the market has caught up to them on this so far. (I think spec is trying though)

    I got my smash for under 4k (sans wheels). But I upgraded the ride 1 build with drivetrain to Gx, cockpit to RF next, brakes to XT, dropper to the bikeyoke, fork to mrp ribbon etc. I got my wheels custom built with pro 4s, and flow mk3 rims. So a semi-custom build that (I think) would check most boxes for most people for about $4500. Oh, and you get to pick your paint and decal color too!

    So yea, I'm pretty stoked on my smash. I am getting close to having the suspension dialed and it is more fun than any bike I have been on. The 'Plush' mode really does feel plush despite having a small efficiency hit. That said, it takes 30 seconds to swap to crush. I have been riding exclusively in plush and i don't think it really hinders me noticeably.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Just J View Post
    I had to work out, for a moment, why a pent up prom date would be descending but thank you for giving me my first proper chuckle of the day sParty!

    =sParty
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  20. #20
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    I have a unicorn bike. I have placed 3rd in an xc race, ridden for 8 hours in one day hitting grade 5 track. l have ridden slippery root infested ridiculous ly steep mountain tracks. Warped down dh tracks keeping up with my buddies on their dh rigs..... Oh yeah. Tis truely glorious.

    And the bike is..... Rocky mountain slayer!

  21. #21
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    Ride demos, rent demos, make a spreadsheet with geometry to help know what you like.

    I enjoyed trying lots of bikes and found most were great. A late model Fuel EX with 140 Pike and 29r vs plus ended up being my choice. What stood out for me trying lots of stuff was how Trek's "Reaktiv" shock gives you the plush and platform or firm on demand.

    Have fun shopping.
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  22. #22
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    Climbs like a scalded monkey & goes down like a lead balloon?

    No such bike, I'm afraid... Every bike is a compromise on the continuum above.

    Based on what you've ridden, a mid travel 29er sounds like your jam.

    Plenty of em out there....

    If I had the coin & wanted a good climber/descender. It'd be a plastic bike with approx. 130mm of travel in the rear & 140mm of travel up front.

    All the major & minor brands make bikes that fit the bill, give or take 5-10mm of travel.

    Get out there and demo a few mules... ride some buddies bikes... read reviews etc. and have fun whilst you're doing it ;-)

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  23. #23
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    Look at Evil,, I ride an Insurgent, mostly on intermediate trails, but the occasional advanced trail. It is actually more suspension than I need, but I love it. But if you don't think you need 150mm suspension, an Evil Calling at 131mm is a great bike.. They are not cheap, but of all the bikes I have test rode, including several $6k to $8k top end Specialized, Pivot, Giant and Santa Cruz bikes (all great bikes), I like my Evil better, both climbing and going down technical trails.

    If you look around you should be able to find a deal on a used Following V1, as there are people selling to buy the new Following.

  24. #24
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    For 95% of the riding around SLC, a 120mm 29er will do you just fine. The DW link bikes are really impressive, but most of the bikes in the 120-140mm travel range are going to be great bikes to ride. It's small changes in feel based on the linkage. One thing I notice is that there are almost no bad reviews on any bike above 3k other than what is spec'd.
    I match up my geometry numbers with what I've been on and guesstimate rather than pay 100 bucks to demo a bunch of bikes. So far, so good.

    I got the wife a Kona Hei Hei DL from Jensonusa. XT build, carbon wheels and frame for 4k. Just had to put the front wheel on. Around 4k and you can get a killer bike that will do everything you want and more.

  25. #25
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    Had a 13 Santa Cruz TallboyLT with Enve wheels. Light, stiff and pedaled well. Bought a Canfield Balance for a DH bike. Liked the way it pedaled and handled so much I sold the Santa Cruz so I could buy a Canfield Riot. It has a little weight penalty but so worth it. It would be lighter without the DHFs and coil but can pedal up anything efficiently and feels like a DH bike going down. And if they still have a medium in stock, they are heavily discounted.

  26. #26
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    As you might have gathered from lots of the responses here, you probably will not need to compromise quite as much as you think. I currently have a hardtail XC 29er (specialized Stumpjumper) and a Salsa Pony Rustler (currently set up as 27.5+). Unless I am VERY fresh and well rested, the Salsa is faster over most terrain, including climbing. It doesn't always feel like it is, but the stopwatch don't lie

    Being in and from new England and a bit old school, i've also spent a lot of time on a Cannondale Scalpel 29er. It was an extremely fast, fun bike; it was great. But it was NOT plush.

  27. #27
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    same age and dimensions as the OP - 510 wuith 31.5 inseam. I am finding choice is limited quite a bit by long seat tubes compared to reach. My upper body fits a large but when a large has 5cm extra seat tube and a longer dropper, I'd need platform shoes to reach the pedals. trek fuel is one that matches my older kona in reach in a size I can pedal, guerrilla gravity as well but they're well over budget in aus. YT jeffsy in a 27 is possible, 29 is way too short in reach, but fuel is leading contender. also good deals on the 2018 models at 2019 stuff starts appearing

  28. #28
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    Looking for something similar. I haven't ridden either one yet, but I'm putting the Norco Sight and Scott Genius on my shortlist of 29ers to try.

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