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  1. #1
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    Short travel race FS 29er: Jet 9 vs Superfly 100 vs Epic Carbon

    I'm looking for a 29er "race" bike. I current have a Fuel EX 9.9 which has been serving as my all around bike. I want to move to the bigger wheels and use the Fuel as my fun trail and longer travel rig, and use the 29er as my 6hr and 50/100 mile race bike.

    I'm having a really hard time finding the bikes I posted in the titles as demos. It seems that everyone has niner hardtail demos, but no one has the Jet 9. Also, no Trek demo days near me any time soon, and all the shops have the al GF version vs the superfly. I know on my Trek it made a big difference in stiffness going from AL (EX8) to CF (EX9.9) so I actually want to ride the bike I'm planning on buying. I'm thinking if there was a Carbon Jet 9 I would just get that.......

    Having said all that, I have some questions that I'm hoping will find some answers:

    1) What is the difference really between these 3? The geometry looks fairly close enough. Obviously the Jet is al vs carbon for the other 2. Is the frame as stiff as the competition?

    2) Will the Spesh ride that much different with it's brain shock? The SuperFly and Spesh have the same looking simple pivot suspension with the SuperFly having ABP and the Spesh having the brain as the primary difference it seems. The Jet has the CVA suspension, so I'm thinking it can actually be plusher with better pedaling, with the more efficient suspension design.

    2) Out of these 3, which would you guys recommend? I'm a Trek fanboi, so leaning towards the SuperFly, but open to the other 2.

    3) Anything else out there in this class of bike that I should be looking at? I thought about the Tallboy, but after getting reviews of that bike and looking at geometry it has more of a "on top of the bike" feel rather then "in the bike" and that worries me. I also have a friend that traded his Tallboy in for a Spesh Epic Carbon because of that very reason. Also there is the GIANT Anthem X 29er. Not carbon either, but that one would go up nicely against the Jet9.

    Thoughts? Ideas?
    -Tom

  2. #2
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    tough choice

    Quote Originally Posted by trhoppe
    I'm looking for a 29er "race" bike. I current have a Fuel EX 9.9 which has been serving as my all around bike. I want to move to the bigger wheels and use the Fuel as my fun trail and longer travel rig, and use the 29er as my 6hr and 50/100 mile race bike.

    I'm having a really hard time finding the bikes I posted in the titles as demos. It seems that everyone has niner hardtail demos, but no one has the Jet 9. Also, no Trek demo days near me any time soon, and all the shops have the al GF version vs the superfly. I know on my Trek it made a big difference in stiffness going from AL (EX8) to CF (EX9.9) so I actually want to ride the bike I'm planning on buying. I'm thinking if there was a Carbon Jet 9 I would just get that.......

    Having said all that, I have some questions that I'm hoping will find some answers:

    1) What is the difference really between these 3? The geometry looks fairly close enough. Obviously the Jet is al vs carbon for the other 2. Is the frame as stiff as the competition?

    Do not assume that carbon means stiffer than alu. It may or may not as it is just a material to build a frame from like any other. That said, the JET9 V2 frame is stiff enough for anything that you would want to do on it, but it will be heavier for sure.

    2) Will the Spesh ride that much different with it's brain shock? The SuperFly and Spesh have the same looking simple pivot suspension with the SuperFly having ABP and the Spesh having the brain as the primary difference it seems. The Jet has the CVA suspension, so I'm thinking it can actually be plusher with better pedaling, with the more efficient suspension design.

    I have little time on a Fly 100, so I cannot say much about that, but the Brain is unique. Comparing directly to the JET's CVA...hmmmm...well, the CVA on that JET is really good. I am testing one now and have been back to back on the Epic as well. It is hard to separate the suspension from the entire package of a bike and in that, the Epic Marathon still has an overall feel that I give a slight edge to, but the CVA is very impressive, especially since the new chassis is so much stuffer than the old one, based on seat of the pants and observed time in the saddle. Neither of the two systems will get in the way of going fast on trail.

    2) Out of these 3, which would you guys recommend? I'm a Trek fanboi, so leaning towards the SuperFly, but open to the other 2.

    3) Anything else out there in this class of bike that I should be looking at? I thought about the Tallboy, but after getting reviews of that bike and looking at geometry it has more of a "on top of the bike" feel rather then "in the bike" and that worries me. I also have a friend that traded his Tallboy in for a Spesh Epic Carbon because of that very reason. Also there is the GIANT Anthem X 29er. Not carbon either, but that one would go up nicely against the Jet9.

    I did not remember feeling "on top of" the Tallboy. Dunno. The Giant will be a player, I think, but they are still rare and unproven, much like the other one you might consider, the Salsa Spearfish. The Salsa is in need of a shock upgrade to get the best out of it, but it is simple and light and not too costly.

    Thoughts? Ideas?
    -Tom
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by trhoppe
    I'm looking for a 29er "race" bike. I current have a Fuel EX 9.9 which has been serving as my all around bike. I want to move to the bigger wheels and use the Fuel as my fun trail and longer travel rig, and use the 29er as my 6hr and 50/100 mile race bike.

    I'm having a really hard time finding the bikes I posted in the titles as demos. It seems that everyone has niner hardtail demos, but no one has the Jet 9. Also, no Trek demo days near me any time soon, and all the shops have the al GF version vs the superfly. I know on my Trek it made a big difference in stiffness going from AL (EX8) to CF (EX9.9) so I actually want to ride the bike I'm planning on buying. I'm thinking if there was a Carbon Jet 9 I would just get that.......

    Having said all that, I have some questions that I'm hoping will find some answers:

    1) What is the difference really between these 3? The geometry looks fairly close enough. Obviously the Jet is al vs carbon for the other 2. Is the frame as stiff as the competition?

    2) Will the Spesh ride that much different with it's brain shock? The SuperFly and Spesh have the same looking simple pivot suspension with the SuperFly having ABP and the Spesh having the brain as the primary difference it seems. The Jet has the CVA suspension, so I'm thinking it can actually be plusher with better pedaling, with the more efficient suspension design.

    2) Out of these 3, which would you guys recommend? I'm a Trek fanboi, so leaning towards the SuperFly, but open to the other 2.

    3) Anything else out there in this class of bike that I should be looking at? I thought about the Tallboy, but after getting reviews of that bike and looking at geometry it has more of a "on top of the bike" feel rather then "in the bike" and that worries me. I also have a friend that traded his Tallboy in for a Spesh Epic Carbon because of that very reason. Also there is the GIANT Anthem X 29er. Not carbon either, but that one would go up nicely against the Jet9.

    Thoughts? Ideas?
    -Tom
    Other thoughts as these all look to be excellent bikes....

    Specialized Epic carbon - $9400 (this critter weighs sub 22 lbs. - 22.6 lbs depending on size )
    Superfly 100 Elite - $6299.99 (24.01 lbs without pedals in size medium)
    Superfly 100 - $4719.99 (26.5 lbs in size medium)
    Giant Anthem X 29 - $3675 (some links are claiming around 26 lbs.)

    Santa Cruz Tallboy carbon frame - $2242
    Niner JET 9 frame - $1749.99

    In terms of comparing the JET 9 and Tallboy frames to the top end Epic and Superfly 100 Elite - you could hang a lot of lightweight gear, wheelset and tires on those frames for the price difference and come out with a similar weight bike. You'd have $4500 to spend on the JET 9 to equal the Superfly Elite's price, and $4057.99 to hang on the Tallboy. Even more if trying to equal the Epic's weight - $7650 to hang on the JET, and $7158 to hang on the Tallboy. I guess going with a frame always seems a good option if you really want to build the bike up with exactly the components and wheels that you like compared to a stock bike where you don't really have a choice.

    I've never seen it, but that Giant may be the best bang for the buck in the group.

    Certainly some nice bikes to be choosing between, and lack of demo rides has been a curse for most of us for the past 5 - 8 years. I can only comment on the new JET since I have one. It is nice and stiff. Especially compared to the prior model JET (which I also had). Keep in mind, the JET only has 80mm of rear travel as opposed to all of the other bikes you mentioned. You can run the JET with 100mm or 80mm up front.

    BB

  4. #4
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    Is the Specialized Epic Frame lighter then the rest? From what I have seen most of the frames are within a 1/3 pound of each other or less.

    My point is that like Bruce Brown pointed out it is the components that make the bike so light...and what is costing so much.

    I just cannot imagine spending $9400.00 on a bike. It does have nice components on it and sure is light...but come on...for that much money it better clean itself, give me a rub down and a happy ending after each ride.

    The Epic is a beautiful bike...maybe the most visually pleasing bike I have ever seen. But unless I raced for a living I just could not justify spending that much money.

    I just got a Tallboy...and it is amazing. Not much experience with 29ers but I am very very happy...and am pretty sure am faster. Still cost a lot...but a far cry from the 10k (with tax) that I would have spent on an Epic.
    Originally Posted by XC62701
    Agreed...make it longer. I want to know death is an option

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the opinions so far. The price, while not too much of a worry, is a consideration. I wasn't looking at the S-Works Epic (which is the $10k bike), but rather at the Expert, which is at the $5k price range. I was also looking at the non-elite SuperFly100 and the LBS was going to work with me to swap the X9 group for XT, and that was also going to be in the $5k price range. Basically, any of the bikes I buy will end up at ~$5k out the door, with the Jet or Giant being cheaper.

    I haven't talked to a single person that did NOT like the Jet9 so that has certainly something going for it. Man I just wish I could find one to ride....

    -Tom

  6. #6
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    I do not have much anything to base this off of other than research and hear-say but you really won't be able to tell until you 1) pull the trigger on something and give it seat time, or 2) drive to a demo. Much like Okie Dokie I cannot fathom spending $9400 on a bike at this point in time that would not be a dedicated race bike that would net me a return equal to the amount of the bike in a short period of time. I am all about the best bang for the buck, bargain bikes (hence why I got an Inbred 29er).

    With that said, I would not rule out the Salsa Spearfish (read their description of what it is aimed for... exactly what you are looking for) or something from like Cannondale, Rocky Mountain, or Titus. When I was shopping I tried multiple bikes (luckily live in an area that there are a ton of shops with different brands) and found the Trek/Spec to be the most uncomfortable feeling bikes (they just felt twitchy, slow, and unresponsive to me) I found that the geometry of the Felt Nine series HT was what I was looking for and found something similar and decided to build it up myself.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by trhoppe
    Thanks for the opinions so far. The price, while not too much of a worry, is a consideration. I wasn't looking at the S-Works Epic (which is the $10k bike), but rather at the Expert, which is at the $5k price range. I was also looking at the non-elite SuperFly100 and the LBS was going to work with me to swap the X9 group for XT, and that was also going to be in the $5k price range. Basically, any of the bikes I buy will end up at ~$5k out the door, with the Jet or Giant being cheaper.

    I haven't talked to a single person that did NOT like the Jet9 so that has certainly something going for it. Man I just wish I could find one to ride....

    -Tom
    I picked up a Jet in late November, in XL. It is stiff, for sure, no flex that I can detect in the front or rear triangle. I think it's due to the hydroformed tubing, versus the round tubing. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved my AIR 9, but for longer rides, anything past about 2 or 3 hours, the Jet really takes the sting out all the bumps and ruts and rocks on anything rougher than buff, smooth singletrack. It's pretty rough around here.

    I thought there were 2010 Jets on sale for around $1100-1200 right before Christmas at Golden Cycles or SpeedGoat, frame only, but I think that stuff, even in this economy, went pretty fast. Do a search, maybe you can still find a deal, and pour some of the savings into a really good wheel set for your Jet.

    http://www.speedgoat.com/Catalog.asp...G35&Prod=18940

    If you can find a Jet still on sale, it will be very hard to find that kind of value in any of the other bikes you mentioned, unless you are an Expert or Pro racer.

    When Niner comes out with something like a Jet with 3.75 to 4" of rear travel in a CVA suspension in CARBON.... I will be in line, like most other folks, for one.

    The good thing is this, people that buy Niners generally know what they are looking for in a bike, know what they want in components, and know how to build a bike. Surely you can go to a bike race, locally, and find someone on a Jet in your size, that would lend you their ride after the race, to try.
    Last edited by Boyonadyke; 01-12-2011 at 04:21 PM.
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  8. #8
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    What size Jet are you looking for?

  9. #9
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    A bit off topic but considering you looked at the Epic and Tallboy I though I should chime in.

    Having ridden (parking lot test ride) the Tall Boy, Epic 29 and a Pivot 429, I've decided on the 429 if I can find one. Pivot has sold out the current production run on large 429's in the two colors I want until about March.

    Raced an '01 i-Drive Team and '04 Ellsworth Truth. Won nationals on the GT and I think a 2nd on the Truth. Not nearly as fast these days after having taken about 5 years off the bike but I still want that snappy pedaling performance I was able to get with the GT and Truth. Worked for both GT and Ellsworth but truly believed, and still do, that both bikes were the best XC race designs at the time. Both my old bikes were in the 23.5 range ready to race.

    29 test ride impressions. All three had RP23's. Reba on Spec and Talas RLC's on the other two

    Epic, XO,maybe 27.5 bike. Modified 4 bar. Good but needed help from the shock settings to pedal well and then suffered from not being as plush or active. Steered well but felt bigger than the other two. Overall you feel the dated and not fully active iteration of the 4 bar design at work. Fast but I believe one no longer has to give up grip and comfort for pedaling performance.

    Tallboy, XX, 120mm fork, maybe 26 lb bike. VPP. Was far more active and plush, pedaling over repetitive square edged bumps. In a big rear out of the saddle and grinding caused a little jacking. That is, chain torque rasing the suspension. Out of the saddle and body weight would neutralize some of that effect. Cranking in a bunch (too much) rebound damping reduced the jacking but messed up repetitive hit absorption. With ProPedal on the platform jelled nicely. Excellent pedaling in or out of the saddle. I did notice some bottom bracket sway when pedaling. Despite riding a tester one size too big for me, the bike was nimble. Overall, a great bike and probably top of my list had I not ridden the next one.

    Pivot 429 with XT, maybe 27lb bike I guess. DW-Link. Pedaled better than any other suspension bike I have ever ridden even with shock settings all screwed up and ProPedal turned off. Fiddled with settings on RLC, and rebound on RP23, Propedal turned off and it honestly felt like a rigid bike. That was until I rode off a curb, back up and over a 4" square edge curb and just sucked them up like a long travel bike. Amazing. No noticeable or observable BB sway. Even just sitting, grabbing the brakes and torquing the cranks, the BB just sits there. I'm assuming a big part of that is the wide BB shell and commensurately wider pivot locations. With Propedal (set on 2 IIRC) on it was essentially rigid when pedaling in our out of the saddle but lost a tiny bit of the small bump compliance. I'd never turn on the Propedal except for maybe pave climbs.

    Frame weight wise, it seems the 429 is only about .25 heavier than the TallBoy and I'm not sure how this is accomplished, the TB being carbon and all. Hard to get exact weights but it looks like a large TB with RP23 is around 6.5 and the 429 with RP23 around 6.8. The 429 ships with headset, BB and FD which probably add .4lb or so.

    There are a few 429 builds in the 22 lbs range I've seen here that are raceable by a guy my size (180#). I hope to build something around 23.5 lbs using XTR and a Lefty carbon. That's right where my old race bikes were despite a frame nearly a pound heavier. Credit that to wheel, tire, component and drive train technological advances over the last 8 years.

    I'd be happy to own any of these three and not be hampered in race performance one way or the other. I think though, the 429 is what I'll be happiest with.
    Last edited by Emilio700; 01-13-2011 at 07:22 PM.

  10. #10
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    I agree with BB's suggestion that the Giant may be the best bang for buck FS on the market at the moment.
    I have not read a single bad review of it from the guys down here in Australia who have one.
    Geometry seems very similar to my Tallboy (again, not many bad things said about these).

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emilio700
    There are a few 429 builds in the 22 lbs range I've seen here that are raceable by a guy my size (180#).
    I'm calling you out on that. I'm sorry if I'm wrong but I searched around and the lightest I am seeing are in the 25-26lb range. Unless you are running without wheels I really dont see it happening.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by FoCo29er
    I'm calling you out on that. I'm sorry if I'm wrong but I searched around and the lightest I am seeing are in the 25-26lb range. Unless you are running without wheels I really dont see it happening.
    My new beast- XXed 429

    I'm planning mine around a Lefty carbon PBR 100mm, XTR race. My wheels will be almost identical to his but with DT Revo's instead of Aerolites. I'm thinking 1.5 lbs or so heavier than his when it's done. We'll see.

    FWIW, sub 20 lb 29er hardtails are commonplace as are ~18 lb 26" hard tails.

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    I stand corrected, that is lighter than I though possible.

  14. #14
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    Just to throw another frame into the mix... why not a Lenz Leviathan 3.0? These can be built up pretty light and sits in between the Jet and Tallboy price wise...

    Might be worth a look...
    My LBS | Riding this and this

  15. #15
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    Don't flame............Salsa Dos Niner. Smooth, light, fast and simple.

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    So as a follow up, I ended up with a SuperFly 29er.

    I test rode a couple of the bikes, and liked the SF the best, combined with a good deal that I got on it, and by Trek fanboism, it was a winner.

    Traded out the cranks, shifters, derailleurs, bars, stem, and wheels with the lbs before I picked up the bike, and it's a dream bike that is fast as all hell. The new wheels aren't here just yet, but once they get here I'll weigh the bike. Don't think it will be too heavy.

    Ran my first race on it last weekend and did well, and the bike was great. It rolls over roots better then my 26er, and is really fast in open flowy areas. Also, it's going to be a rocket ship on more race courses, especially FSRs.

    Thanks for the opinions!

    -Tom

  17. #17
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    Hello trhoppe,

    I'm also in the market for the superfly 100. Can you tell me a loittle more about the rig i.e. cracks, the frame size your HT and WT, any issues at all with the bike?

    I'm looking to pick one up this weekend.

    Best!

  18. #18
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    Just get a Black Sheep highlight ST...

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    I am looking at the Hifi Pro and hoping to see anything on that?

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