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  1. #1
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    Need help picking a well rounded 29er for San Diego County

    Hello all, new to the forum here and somewhat new to mountain biking. I rode a rigid 26" bike when I was a kid, maybe 10-15 years ago. Rode mostly on the pavement and some trails nearby the house with my friends back in the day. Since then my biking experience mainly consists of single speed commuting around campus/town during college.


    I moved back to my home state of CA and am looking for a bike that will suit my local trails. I live in San Diego county and I've been steered towards getting a full suspension bike. I'm all for it and believe it will be a bike that I can grow in to without having to replace very soon. San Diego merits a FS bike from what I gather about the trails/features in the area.


    What I plan to use the bike for/what I want out of the bike: riding for fitness (flat or easy endurance oriented trails/fireroads), great at climbing, decent on the pavement (may use the bike for general fitness riding if I can't always make it to the trails), and mild-moderate downhills. I don't plan on sending any big jumps or massive drops. I don't need to fly downhills, but would like a bike that can handle some downhills as my confidence increases. The way I see it, I essentially want the fabled do-it-all bike minus serious DH stuff.


    My shortlist includes the SC Tallboy 3, SC Hightower, YT Jeffsy, Specialized Stumpjumper, and Trek Fuel. All bikes would be a 29er. I wouldn't mind investing in a 27.5+ wheelset in the future as most of these bikes can accommodate both setups.


    I'm leaning towards the SC Tallboy 3. One salesmen told me its the "right" bike for San Diego County trails, I figure he means it can handle most of whats out here. The Hightower is intriguing, but as a relatively novice mountain bike rider, I feel the Tallboy is a more point-and-ride bike versus the more technical Hightower that a more advanced rider could utilize better. I may be wrong. Another reason I prefer the Tallboy is because I feel it has more XC DNA than the Hightower, and a big part of me riding again is getting fit and maintaining fitness. Haven't been able to sit on any of the other bikes.


    What do you think about these options? I know the bikes are somewhat across the board.

  2. #2
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    I ride a Fuel EX as a do-it-all in OC and love it. I like the dual wheel options (28/27.5+). A few random thoughts:
    -people always say fit and the deal you can get will govern choice. The Trek (longish reaches per given size) geo fit my long torso the best and got a closeout price. Sold.
    -My impression is that Hightower is better option than Tallboy. Pedal similar and similar weight but have the extra travel if needed.
    -the best bike Iíve rode for what you want is Intense Primer

  3. #3
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    Intense has a new model the Sniper Trail. And Yeti has the new SB100.
    Both are light great climbing good descenders.
    https://intensecycles.com/collections/intense-sniper
    https://www.pinkbike.com/news/first-...e-xc-2018.html
    https://www.yeticycles.com/bikes/sb100
    https://www.pinkbike.com/news/yeti-s...irst-look.html
    Both will take wider rims/tires. Both have slacker geo to take advantage of less travel with the wider tires to save weight and do it all.
    Who needs a budget anyway.

  4. #4
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    I won't knock any of those bikes on your list and have owned (3) versions of the Tallboy in the past. I also live and ride in SD County (just rode Calavera today, will be at Greer tomorrow and BLT on Saturday). All I have to say is you're doing your bank account a serious disservice if you don't at least go demo an Intense Primer. I have (3) bikes but if I was forced to ditch 2 of them, I'd keep the Primer. It does everything well and can be set up in many variations from 130/115 all the way up to 160/140 depending on fork/shock/link choice. I've ridden mine on easy XC stuff at Hodges as well as Noble Canyon with no issues.

    Intense is right up the road in Temecula and if you reach out to them, they will let you demo the bike for free. If you weren't aware, Intense went "consumer direct" in December and dropped their pricing about 20%. My Primer build was $4900. The same build with Santa Cruz would be $6999. The YT Jeffsy of course "might" be even cheaper if you're willing to take their E13 build (I'm not or I'd buy the Capra 29er)
    2019 Yeti SB5C
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by JackieTreehorn8 View Post
    I ride a Fuel EX as a do-it-all in OC and love it. I like the dual wheel options (28/27.5+). A few random thoughts:
    -people always say fit and the deal you can get will govern choice. The Trek (longish reaches per given size) geo fit my long torso the best and got a closeout price. Sold.
    -My impression is that Hightower is better option than Tallboy. Pedal similar and similar weight but have the extra travel if needed.
    -the best bike Iíve rode for what you want is Intense Primer
    As a climber, how much better is the Tallboy than the Hightower? I imagine the difference is slight. The benefit I perceive from the Tallboy is that it may be better for XC rides (one of my major requirements is good a fitness/training so I like the XC part of that). If the Hightower can do a good job on the XC side of riding, then I could definitely be swayed that direction.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by k2rider1964 View Post
    I won't know any of those bikes on your list and have owned (3) versions of the Tallboy in the past. I also live and ride in SD County (just rode Calavera today, will be at Greer tomorrow and BLT on Saturday). All I have to say is you're doing your bank account a serious disservice if you don't at least go demo an Intense Primer. I have (3) bikes but if I was forced to ditch 2 of them, I'd keep the Primer. It does everything well and can be set up in many variations from 130/115 all the way up to 160/140 depending on fork/shock/link choice. I've ridden mine on easy XC stuff at Hodges as well as Noble Canyon with no issues.
    I'll definitely give Intense a look. Do you think 120/110 is not enough travel for San Diego? I think thats the toughest question that I'm facing. Some features would be awesome with 6+ inches of travel, but 140/135 isn't a 6" bike. So I would rather get something more XC oriented that has good travel (TB3 120/110) and get a 6 inch bike in the future after my confidence/skills are there.

  7. #7
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    For *me*, I'd rather have a little extra travel rather than not enough but for XC type stuff. I see your point, it's just not my preferred style. If I'm not racing, travel is not much of an issue. I do 25 mile road rides on it as well. Not what it's made for but since I don;;t have a road bike, it's my best option for now. As eb1888 noted, Intense also has the brand new Sniper but I'm not up to snuff on it's pricing vs equally equipped competition. I do know that there is a 120mm and 100mm Sniper.

    My point about the Primer was that is comes standard in some trims as 130/130. The rear shock has two settings and can also be set up as 130/115. People have been doing that and doing 50 mile endurance races. I have the Pro model and it came as 140/130. Somebody figured out you could swap in a rear suspension link off a Recluse and get 140mm out of the rear so they started putting 150 & 160 forks on the bike to make it 160/140.

    I've kept mine at 140/130 and couldn't be any happier. before I picked up a Tracer, I would throw a beefy E13 front tire on the Primer and ride 6" travel territory just fine.
    2019 Yeti SB5C
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by k2rider1964 View Post
    For *me*, I'd rather have a little extra travel rather than not enough but for XC type stuff. I see your point, it's just not my preferred style. If I'm not racing, travel is not much of an issue. I do 25 mile road rides on it as well. Not what it's made for but since I don;;t have a road bike, it's my best option for now.
    I guess my broken down interest goes: 1) Trail riding (longer backcountry rides), 2) XC training (possibly racing), 3) Moderate DH riding.

    I think the Hightower is a better bike if my interest were: DH > Trail > XC. I think the Tallboy is suited better to Trail > XC > DH.

  9. #9
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    Seems like you want to stay with Santa Cruz and there's nothing wrong with that. They do have a lifetime warranty nowadays. I'd still build it with a 130 fork though. I'd also still go demo them if you can. A buddy of mine with an Ibis fetish (who is a climbing fool in XC terrain....he got ate alive in Sedona last weekend) was in the same boat as you. He demo'd the Tallboy3, Ibis Ripley LS and Primer. He looked the Ripley best and ended up buying it but the Primer was his 2nd choice due to how well rounded it was (especially descending) and he liked the Santa Cruz as well but not nearly as much...admittedly it was a lower level build, still 1x12 but not the good stuff.
    2019 Yeti SB5C
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  10. #10
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    I ride a Ripley LS which is a great bike for San Diego. If I had to buy a bike today I would be all over a Primer at the current prices they are going for. Intense has options ranging from $2,999 to as to as high as you would want to go.

    Pay close attention to the parts that come on all the bikes you are looking at. Most of the frames you are looking at are great so for me it pretty much comes down to the price and the parts you get at the price. Intense is offering really good value

    https://intensecycles.com/collection...imer-pro-build

    Also, I would error on the side of going with a little more travel. With these light carbon frames and efficient suspension designs you donít pay any penalties on climbs etc on the longer travel bikes like you may have 5 years ago.

  11. #11
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    Ripley LS

  12. #12
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    I guess Pivot just redid the 429 Trail as well....130/120. People have been extremely satisfied with that bikes versatility ever since it came out and now it's on version 3 and the reviews say it's even better than before.
    2019 Yeti SB5C
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  13. #13
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    I really wanna demo that ripley

  14. #14
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    I live in North San Diego County. Based on what your planned usage suggest a hardtail.
    They climb better, have simpler maintenance then FS bikes and handle the downhills just fine. I would suggest a bike that can run 29er and 27.5 plus ( 3" tires) wheels like the SC Chameleon. Your skills will increase faster on a hardtail as you'll learn to pick lines and terrain changes.

    To me I find it crazy that some bike shop is trying to convince you to buy a FS bike based on the trails around here and your skills/planned usage. Pure hogwash.

    mike

  15. #15
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    Devinci Django is getting great reviews. The Ibis Ripley LS is also worth looking at.
    Best Source for Ibis, Devinci, and Ventana!
    Velorangutan... the pedal type.
    Motorangutan... the motorized type.

  16. #16
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    I live in North county and agree a Tallboy would be a very nice bike for the type of rider you describe yourself as.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7OFF View Post
    As a climber, how much better is the Tallboy than the Hightower? I imagine the difference is slight. The benefit I perceive from the Tallboy is that it may be better for XC rides (one of my major requirements is good a fitness/training so I like the XC part of that). If the Hightower can do a good job on the XC side of riding, then I could definitely be swayed that direction.
    If you had the same tires on both, you would not notice much difference for long rides between the two.

  18. #18
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    Lot's of differing opinions in here, most of them saying "my bike is best!"

    For background I live in North County and have ridden most of the available trails around here. The trails here are very rocky and the penalty for having more suspension is not very large any longer. The difference in climbing or riding on the road comes down to tire choice primarily. Of the bikes you mentioned I would stack rank them in the following order

    1. YT Jeffsey - "IF" you can get one this will be the best value. Hard to beat D2C pricing and it is a very nice bike
    2. Specialized Stumpjumper - Recently redesigned and this bike will get you down any trail you can find. There is a LOT of riding hidden in the hills and if you go down the rabbit hole of riding like some of us, this bike will take you as far as you want to go. Plus 150 travel is really nice to have around here.
    3. SC Hightower - Excellent all around bike, with very little efficiency penalty over the Tallboy
    4. SC Tallboy - Very good choice for most places, but slightly under gunned for many of the trails around here
    5. Trek Fuel - Most XC of the bunch, have tried to run 120 travel bikes as has most of my circle and we always end up back on 150 bikes

    Good luck and enjoy the process!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Salespunk View Post

    4. SC Tallboy - Very good choice for most places, but slightly under gunned for many of the trails around here

    Good luck and enjoy the process!
    I like the Jeffsy advice but not YT's build kits. As fas as the Tallboy, you're responding based on the way YOU ride and the trails YOU like to ride. The OP is "somewhat new to mountain biking". He isn't going to be racing Enduro or smashing thru rock gardens at La Costa or Greer. I picture him at Hodges, MTRP, PQ/DMM/Black Mtn and I think he'll be fine on a Tallboy if that's what he chooses.
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  20. #20
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    WASTE of money. Get a good hardtail and call it a day. Not sure what you have ridden lately, but I live in San Diego and just sold/parted out a nearly $8k Pivot 429t (arguably one of the better mid-travel trail bikes, especially for San Diego) for a Santa Cruz Chameleon hardtail. For the same money as your FS bike of choice, a hard tail will be lighter, better equipped, handle better, climb better, and also be more fun. There is NOTHING in San Diego or most of SoCal (short of the true DH lines) that can't be ridden on a hard tail. I've had quite a few top dollar bikes, and YES, a high end, carbon, full suspension bike running carbon wheels and top of the line components is fun. However, on our local trails, I am as fast pretty much everywhere on my rigid single speed as I was on my super bikes. In addition to the cost savings and better climbing, hard tails force you to learn to ride better. Feel free to PM me if you are interested in trying my Chameleon on the trails you would actually be riding and see if a nice hardtail would work for you. Also, what shop are you working with? I know a few of the local guys and can possibly point you to someone who will work with you specifically on what you need, vs the routine...."pick one of these 3 bikes" answer most shops give. Lastly, I've owned a Fuel EX8, EX 9.9, and a custom spec Remedy 9.x and they are all good bikes, but again, for what you say you will do, they are overkill. I've also owned an s-Works FSR, the previously mentioned Pivot, Superfly Carbon (HT), Niner RKT9, and a couple of others. They are all great, but the bike I always come back to for San Diego is my 20lb rigid SS. There are really no bad bikes on the market if you stay above $2k with the big brands, but that doesn't mean they are right for you.
    Have at it!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by senor_mikey View Post
    I live in North San Diego County. Based on what your planned usage suggest a hardtail.
    They climb better, have simpler maintenance then FS bikes and handle the downhills just fine. I would suggest a bike that can run 29er and 27.5 plus ( 3" tires) wheels like the SC Chameleon. Your skills will increase faster on a hardtail as you'll learn to pick lines and terrain changes.

    To me I find it crazy that some bike shop is trying to convince you to buy a FS bike based on the trails around here and your skills/planned usage. Pure hogwash.

    mike
    See my comment about the Chameleon. I've only had mine a month and have already PRd a bunch of stuff in my normal San Diego loops. I can't wait to get it down Raptor and see if I can crack the top 10 times for the year on Strava. People seriously ride too much bike, thinking they need 6" of travel. I have hit 3' drops to flat on my Chameleon no problem (with my 120 mm fork, but I just swapped to my Fox Factory 34 at 130mm), and have done plenty of fast runs on my rigid SS. But the marketing guys are good, so motorcycle tires on 33lb trail bikes are everywhere
    Have at it!

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