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  1. #1
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    older guy looking for FS 29er advice

    I have been riding a trek Marlin 29er hardtail for about 3 years now, 2-3 times per week, looking to upgrade to FS. Any advice other than to just try everything in a demo ride? I am probably not looking for a race bike, more of a trail, enjoyment type of upgrade-but with some reliability. I really want some good components, always adjusting the derailleur and freeing up sticky brake cables on my Trek.
    I am older, 55, so money is not so much the thing as a good value. My local bikeshops can order most anything, I don't really have a close relationship with any of them. I really just like to ride alone and enjoy trail riding, it is the solitude that I really crave. Don't really care about brands, but prefer something US or EU made. Niner and Santa Cruz look great, but they are so pricey. Any help appreciated, maybe from someone with an older perspective, thanks.

  2. #2
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    I started riding seriously again a couple of years ago, and I wanted a FS bike. From the riding that I used to like to do and reading about new bikes, I was pretty sure that I would want a 100mm travel 29" bike. I went to a couple of different Trek demo days and rode a wide variety of FS bikes. I ended up liking a 130mm travel 26" bike the best. A couple of full day rides later on another couple of bikes and I bought a Santa Cruz Blur TRc. I think that riding as many different bikes as you can is the best thing, but be sure to ride some bikes that are a little outside of what you think you want. Because I rode a 150mm travel bike I was pretty sure that 130mm was what I wanted, then I started riding different 130mm bikes.

  3. #3
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    Just my uninformed opinion, but you have to work pretty hard to buy a bad bike these days.

    I'd ride as many as you can, see what fits and feels right, then analyze specs and pull the trigger.

    Sounds like you'd be happy with 100mm +/-.

  4. #4
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    Interesting thought on the plusher ride, that may be the ticket, the Blur looks really sweet. My back can get very dicey after a long trip. I will certainly check it out, thanks!

  5. #5
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    older guy looking for FS 29er advice

    Interesting topic. I'm currently on a pretty nice 26er full suspension. I love everything about the bike but, arthritis in my hands and elbows has been making me wonder if a 29er dually would be less jarring to the hands. I've been eying the current deals on the Tallboy LTc frames. What keeps me from pulling the trigger is that I don't want to miss the snappy handling, great climbing and just plain fun Im having on my current bike (Carbine SL).

  6. #6
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    Agreed, it's really hard to buy a completely bad bike, but it's pretty straightforward to buy a good looking bike with a few lame components that really let down the experience.

    The trail travel range bikes (100-125mm) with some more XC oriented parts specced are going to be very nimble and capable of clawing up challenging climbs extremely well; I'd put some focus on the brakes especially (riding alone, plus not healing as quickly as you once did), find ones that work well for you (Shimano is the gold standard for me, but YMMV). Next biggest part is fitting it really well, if I'm cranking my back trying to make a slightly off-sized bike work on a test ride, consider how you're going to feel the morning after a good ride; don't hesitate to spend some cash on shuffling around seatposts/stems/bars to get the cockpit how you want it.

    Starting places - Giant TranceX29 (120mm travel, pedals well, decent spec), SantaCruz Tallboy (really plush efficient suspension and very maneuverable), Turners and Niners, or even one of the Salsa offerings if you're leaning towards legs to go distances over precise feel. Since you mentioned riding more for the seclusion with nature, I'd start off looking at the moderate travel 29ers, but do look into the 650B and even 26" offerings if you can.

  7. #7
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    I just rode a Niner JET 9 and RIP 9 and they were both very smooth. The JET was easier to pedal but the RIP cruised on the flats and downhill sections.

    You can't really go wrong as long as it fits you and you like it. Ride as many as you can like others have said...

  8. #8
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    This isn't about brand favorite or buy this because I've had them forever and they're great. I'm 52, bought mine last year. Love it and it works for me. Do I regret it? No, but I would do things differently. I test road different bikes in the parking lot of different shops and bought what felt right for me. I got lucky I think but after a certain price point your really going to get an overall good bike. The thing I would do differently is rent the different bikes and take them on the trail. Giant, Specialized, Niner, Santa Cruz, they all handle different. Take them on the trails you ride. You do a lot of climbing? Which climbs best for you? Which bike has less bob. Technical single track? Which handles it. Which bike eats it up? Which bike gives you that WOW feeling after your ride? You have too many choices between 26, 29, 27.5. Local shop doesn't rent bikes? Talk to the owner and let him know you'll buy the right bike and leave a credit card for the demo. Good Luck to you.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclones30 View Post
    I just rode a Niner JET 9 and RIP 9 and they were both very smooth. The JET was easier to pedal but the RIP cruised on the flats and downhill sections.

    You can't really go wrong as long as it fits you and you like it. Ride as many as you can like others have said...
    Second that! There are a lot of good bikes available today. The challenge is to find the best one for you. Each on is different.

  10. #10
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    interesting thread. I am liking this thread as I am not a spring chicken and I have been a riding novice for years. I do a lot on a bike but that is limited to my environment, my needs and my financial issues. Money sadly is always a factor. I prefer hardtails and just discovered 29er's. I am hoping to get an upgradable hardtail for personal use (back up for work use, everything I own seems to be a backup for work use) sometime this year. I won't bring my wants into this thread since I doubt it's relevant to the OP. I will be interested in where this thread goes though.

  11. #11
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    The Rip 9 is a LOT of bike. If you're not going to really push the envelope, it's a bit more bike to pedal up the hill than most need. BUT, it does eat up the trail, chews nails and spits sparks.

    Personally, my guess is that the OP might be better suited on an alloy 100mm travel Jet 9, (especially if you'd rather ride with 120mm travel fork rather than a 140mm fork on a Rip 9). My recommendation would go something like this: Spend the savings (over a carbon frame) on the rest of the parts (but there are some deals to be had on the carbon version if one shops around).

    Jet 9 frame with a 120mm travel Manitou Minute (for the 48mm offset as much as the excellent performance) to make it still carve like a surgeon with the 120mm fork.

    May as well hang a Niner RDO Stem and Flat Top Carbon bar on there too (with Ergon GA1 grips). Shimano XT brakes (with 160mm rear and 180mm front rotors) and 2 x 10 Shimano XT drivetrain with 24/38 chainrings and 11-36 cassette. RS Reverb seatpost (or a Niner RDO Carbon post if you don't want a dropper) with the saddle of your choice.

    Lots of choices in wheels, but I think you could do worse than going with either Hope Pro 2 hubs (or DT Swiss 350) laced with DT Swiss 2.0/1.8/2.0 Competition spokes (with brass nipples) to a rim like the Mavic EN821 (asymmetrical to help even out the spoke tension, fairly light-but-still-strong at 455g, and no tape needed to go tubeless). Toss on a Specialized Ground Control rear tire, and a Purgatory front tire (Control versions both F&R), add some sealant, and you're ready to rock for the long haul.

    Not blingy to excess, or stupid-light, and relatively good deals can be found on all or most of it. Just a good, durable, high performance XC-ish trail bike that will go the distance. Measure twice, cut once. No need to look for upgrades unless you just have cash burning holes in your pocket. To save a few dollars, you could go SLX, (or even some . . . . gasp. . . . Deore) parts on the drivetrain/brakes.

    Sure is fun to spend other people's money ;~)

    All that said, there are many bikes that most riders will love riding. Get out and ride some!

  12. #12
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    If you're looking for value vs. the name on the tubes- Airborne Hobgoblin XO- For $2600 you aren't going to find a bike with a similar spec: Airborne Bicycles. HobGoblin X0

    Frame 7000series Hydroformed Aluminum Dual Suspension 29" with 100mm of travel
    Fork RockShox Reba RLT 29 w/Lock-Out, tapered steer, 15mm Maxle thru-axle, 100mm
    Headset Ahead Sealed Cartridge 1 1/8" to 1.5" tapered
    Rear Shock RockShox Monarch RL with lock-out
    Brake Levers Avid Elixir 9 with tool-free reach and contact adjustment
    Brakes Avid Elixir 9 Hydraulic Disc with adjustable banjo bolt
    Rotors Avid HS1, 180mm front, 160mm rear
    Shifters SRAM X0 2x10 with gold color accents
    F Derailleur SRAM X0 2x10 direct mount with gold color accents
    R Derailleur SRAM X0 2x10 mid-cage with gold color accents
    Cassette SRAM PG-1050 11-36T 10-Speed
    Chain SRAM Powerchain 1051
    Crank SRAM X0 Carbon 2x10, 38/24 gearing with gold color accents
    Bottom Bracket SRAM PressFitGXP
    Pedals NONE
    Rims Sun-Ringle BLACK FLAG PRO WHEELSET for 29er (28/28 spokes)
    Hubs Sun-Ringle BLACK FLAG PRO, 15mm Maxle front, 135mm QR rear
    Spokes Wheelsmith Straight-Pull, Double-Butted Spokes, Wheelsmith Alloy Nipples
    Tires Maxxis IKON 29x2.2"
    Handlebar FSA SL-K Carbon Low Riser 31.8 clamp, width=660mm
    Stem FSA SL-K Alu/Carbon Stem +/- 6 degrees, 31.8mm clamp
    Saddle Selle San Marco Ponza Power
    Seat Post FSA SL-K Carbon 350mm x 31.6mm, 20mm setback
    Extras Sun Ringle Tubeless conversion kit included, Owners Manual, Clear Coat, H2O Bottle Mount, RD Hanger, Velo Lock-On Grips
    13 Lenz Lunchbox punkass

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by chipconstant View Post
    I have been riding a trek Marlin 29er hardtail for about 3 years now, 2-3 times per week, looking to upgrade to FS. Any advice other than to just try everything in a demo ride? I am probably not looking for a race bike, more of a trail, enjoyment type of upgrade-but with some reliability. I really want some good components, always adjusting the derailleur and freeing up sticky brake cables on my Trek.
    I am older, 55, so money is not so much the thing as a good value. My local bikeshops can order most anything, I don't really have a close relationship with any of them. I really just like to ride alone and enjoy trail riding, it is the solitude that I really crave. Don't really care about brands, but prefer something US or EU made. Niner and Santa Cruz look great, but they are so pricey. Any help appreciated, maybe from someone with an older perspective, thanks.
    Like you I'm a slightly older rider (47) and just started riding an entry level hardtail two years ago. This year decided to upgrade to full suspension and I am very happy with a Fuel Ex 8. 120mm travel 29er trail bike. Not a racer either and just enjoy getting out on the trails for the fun, fitness and fresh air. Also enjoy the solitude as 80-90% of my riding is solo. Trek seems to offer good bang for buck. The Trek Fuel Ex 7, 8 or 9 depending on budget is probably the sort of bike you are looking for. All 3 models are good but the 8 & 9 have the better specs and offer the reliability you are after. I love mine.

  14. #14
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    If you're coming from a hard tail you might want one of the suspension or shock designs that can firm things up without having to reach for a switch. I'm looking forward to testing Trek's new shock because one thing I observed with the link designs that firm when pedaling is they don't have the firm feeling when you want to pump the bike.

    One other thing to consider with 29 bikes is new style geometry. I did not like any 29r in spite of any advantage the wheels offered until the class of bikes that are more slack, lower and shorter rear stays came along. That's sort of an in it vs on it feel, and a design that is great for the riding advice of light hands and heavy feet. For that general feel look for chain stays close to 17 in or less, head angle close to 68. That style of 29 not only feels great but I can turn them like an old trail bike, and do something steep or a drop with a feeling the bike has you covered.

    For US made and new school, Trek World this week will probably show more of the carbon (plastic) Remedy 29. When I did real world testing on trails the Remedy 29 had more suspension than some might need but had a confidence inspiring feel. I rode it back to back with the 650B model where that remains one of the greatest bikes I've tried and at top of my list. I'm a 29 wheel rider but wow, the Remedy 650B was just no thought to wheel size, bike, just shut up and ride anything. That was a carbon 9.8 and maybe the carbon Remedy will be more like it.


    Some updates will show here before their www site:

    Trek World

    Not US-made but WOW for fun was Kona Process 111. That is the super geometry of the Honzo with a few inches of squish. Soon you can have it with X1.

    Brief time with Turner Flux 3 and Sultan was interesting and those are US-made. They won't help you complaint about price excepting their base model build. Sultans are still at "inventory reduction" prices.

    Delay the gratification and go to demo days and rentals so you can try bikes on the trail.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by chipconstant View Post
    I have been riding a trek Marlin 29er hardtail for about 3 years now, 2-3 times per week, looking to upgrade to FS. Any advice other than to just try everything in a demo ride? I am probably not looking for a race bike, more of a trail, enjoyment type of upgrade-but with some reliability. I really want some good components, always adjusting the derailleur and freeing up sticky brake cables on my Trek.
    I am older, 55, so money is not so much the thing as a good value. My local bikeshops can order most anything, I don't really have a close relationship with any of them. I really just like to ride alone and enjoy trail riding, it is the solitude that I really crave. Don't really care about brands, but prefer something US or EU made. Niner and Santa Cruz look great, but they are so pricey. Any help appreciated, maybe from someone with an older perspective, thanks.
    Try to hit the sweet spot of travel for 29"ers (120-130mm). Your "old age" will enjoy that much, much more than 100mm oriented FS bikes.

    The alloy Niner RIP 9 and JET 9 frames would be worth considering in terms of value and bang for the buck. Since you're not racing, I'd opt for the RIP 9 and build it out more XC oriented in terms of using a 120mm fork, XC tires and lighter weight components to have a solid machine that will only weigh about a pound more than the JET if you build it out right (I've got both and they are a pound apart in their builds).

    The RIP is a solid burly frame and the bike eats up the trail providing great traction. The CVA suspension is still one of the best out there and worth staying at the top of your list.

    I've been riding mine as my "go to" and "fun" bike since I got it in October of 2009.

    Here it is approaching it's 5th birthday and still going just as strong as the first day I rode it 5 years ago...





    Size XL at 27.x pounds.
    Last edited by BruceBrown; 07-31-2014 at 12:52 AM.

  16. #16
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    Re: older guy looking for FS 29er advice

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffj View Post
    The Rip 9 is a LOT of bike. If you're not going to really push the envelope, it's a bit more bike to pedal up the hill than most need. BUT, it does eat up the trail, chews nails and spits sparks.

    Personally, my guess is that the OP might be better suited on an alloy 100mm travel Jet 9, (especially if you'd rather ride with 120mm travel fork rather than a 140mm fork on a Rip 9). My recommendation would go something like this: Spend the savings (over a carbon frame) on the rest of the parts (but there are some deals to be had on the carbon version if one shops around).

    Jet 9 frame with a 120mm travel Manitou Minute (for the 48mm offset as much as the excellent performance) to make it still carve like a surgeon with the 120mm fork.

    May as well hang a Niner RDO Stem and Flat Top Carbon bar on there too (with Ergon GA1 grips). Shimano XT brakes (with 160mm rear and 180mm front rotors) and 2 x 10 Shimano XT drivetrain with 24/38 chainrings and 11-36 cassette. RS Reverb seatpost (or a Niner RDO Carbon post if you don't want a dropper) with the saddle of your choice.

    Lots of choices in wheels, but I think you could do worse than going with either Hope Pro 2 hubs (or DT Swiss 350) laced with DT Swiss 2.0/1.8/2.0 Competition spokes (with brass nipples) to a rim like the Mavic EN821 (asymmetrical to help even out the spoke tension, fairly light-but-still-strong at 455g, and no tape needed to go tubeless). Toss on a Specialized Ground Control rear tire, and a Purgatory front tire (Control versions both F&R), add some sealant, and you're ready to rock for the long haul.

    Not blingy to excess, or stupid-light, and relatively good deals can be found on all or most of it. Just a good, durable, high performance XC-ish trail bike that will go the distance. Measure twice, cut once. No need to look for upgrades unless you just have cash burning holes in your pocket. To save a few dollars, you could go SLX, (or even some . . . . gasp. . . . Deore) parts on the drivetrain/brakes.

    Sure is fun to spend other people's money ;~)

    All that said, there are many bikes that most riders will love riding. Get out and ride some!
    Older guy needs much more sweep in the bars than a Niner flat top.

  17. #17
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    I don't see where an older guy needs 120-130mm travel bike for comfort- doesn't sound like he'd use it.

    I rode my TBc at a bike park a few times last year, 4ft drops and perfectly comfortable at 46 years old doing it.

    100mm travel bike would be more than enough for the OP.
    13 Lenz Lunchbox punkass

  18. #18
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    To complete the option range I'll add the Superfly 9.6 or 9.8 to represent the light and simple choice.
    The engineered compliance is the answer to comfort you do not get with an aluminum ht.
    With wide rim wheels my 9.8 has a matched front and rear feel and comes in at 22 lbs.
    I've demoed an aluminum Rip9 and Fuel Ex 9.8 on my trails. Both are great bikes.
    But once I don't need them for cushion the added weight and complexity is a liability. The solid stable handling is great. It isn't as fun and challenging on my trails...light, quick and simple for me.
    Look at the reviews on the Trek site. Guys are riding 100k races and leaving their fs bikes home, or selling them.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    I don't see where an older guy needs 120-130mm travel bike for comfort- doesn't sound like he'd use it.

    I rode my TBc at a bike park a few times last year, 4ft drops and perfectly comfortable at 46 years old doing it.

    100mm travel bike would be more than enough for the OP.
    Talk to me (us) when you reach our age. I remember how great my back functioned and felt at 46. Different story a decade later for most of us...

  20. #20
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    Older! 55 is older than every year prior to it, but looking at most Cat 1 or Cat 2 MTB race results, the 50-60 year olds are faster than most of the 40 year olds and almost all of the 30 year olds! Not always the case, but if you're fit going into your 50's, watch out!

    As far as FS 29ers, it just depends on your skill set, terrain, and capacity to afford light weight….Check out Specialized Epics and Cambers….Trek Superfly FS's and Fuel 29ers….as well as Niner, Rocky Mountain, and all the smaller brand bikes. Get the most recent design/component blend you can afford. Upgrade wheels not small parts.

    Remember warranty is something to consider as well. Bigger manufacturers offer longer terms while smaller companies are normally have limits. This is not because of the quality of the product as much as their ability to absorb losses.

    In the end, its not about your age, its about having fun at your age, whatever it is!!!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by chipconstant View Post
    Don't really care about brands, but prefer something US or EU made. .
    I guess I'm still a youngster at 37, but knee injuries have me looking at a full-suspensions. Since you prefer US or EU made, have you thought about a Lenzsport (Lenz Sport:: The Best Full Suspension Mountain Bikes). I'm looking at getting one when I recover from knee surgery.
    Last edited by intheways; 2 Weeks Ago at 09:18 PM.
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  22. #22
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    older guy looking for FS 29er advice

    Some suggestions here are race type bikes - not what was requested in the original message. The Lenz line suggested could be the modern geometry suggested but more travel than race bikes, Process 111 or Phantom.

    FWIW: I'm same age, planning to keep my 29 hard tail. With that, the more I shop the more it seems geometry and not wheel size makes some bikes so special (awesome). More of the new 650B bikes seem to have that than 29r dual suspension bikes so that might help the OPs concerns over price in addition to add more choice.

  23. #23
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    Check out the salsa spearfish. They're super popular for endurance riders so they have a good reputation for comfort

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    To complete the option range I'll add the Superfly 9.6 or 9.8 to represent the light and simple choice.
    The engineered compliance is the answer to comfort you do not get with an aluminum ht.
    With wide rim wheels my 9.8 has a matched front and rear feel and comes in at 22 lbs.
    I've demoed an aluminum Rip9 and Fuel Ex 9.8 on my trails. Both are great bikes.
    But once I don't need them for cushion the added weight and complexity is a liability. The solid stable handling is great. It isn't as fun and challenging on my trails...light, quick and simple for me.
    Look at the reviews on the Trek site. Guys are riding 100k races and leaving their fs bikes home, or selling them.
    Dude I was watching the womens XC race in the Commonwealth Games last night and the two women battling it out for 2nd and 3rd we both on Trek hardtails. Gotta assume they were on the top carbon model 'with compliance' that you are always talking about. This carbon compliance may make the ride a little more comfortable than an aluminum ht but these women were struggling at times on some pretty tame terrain that a FS bike would easily eat up. They were being jangled around just like all the other competitors on other hardtails. It might be a nice ride but there's no way it's as comfortable as a FS bike and definitely not what the OP is looking for.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceBrown View Post
    Talk to me (us) when you reach our age. I remember how great my back functioned and felt at 46. Different story a decade later for most of us...
    I am 50 and ride a rigid SS on most of my rides. Also have SC Tallboy and that is more than enough travel for XC riding.

    IMO anything over 100mm is overkill (for XC).

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