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  1. #1
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    Steel 29er recommend

    I just sold my first full suspension bike. I had my specialized camber for about 6 months and rode it a lot. But I've been riding for over 25 years (44 y/o) and I just didn't like riding the tank and I'm excited to go back to hardtail. After having aluminum, then carbon, then full suspension, I want to go back to a real bike and build a really nice steel bike. So your opinions are welcomed.

    Steel bike recommendations?

    Non-custom frames that I'm looking at:
    Salsa El Mariachi ~$2000 complete
    Ritchey P-29 (really like this one) ~$900 frame
    Niner ROS (more aggressive geometry - not sure about that) ~$900 frame

  2. #2
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    Niner MCR or SIR9
    The updated Surly Karate Monkey looks really nice too.
    The Vassago VerHauen is another one to add to the list

  3. #3
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    Niner doesn't make the MCR any longer, at least according to their current website. I guess I didn't realize the SIR9 could also be geared but after checking it out, it can be either ss or geared. Excellent option.

    I'll check the others out too. Thanks!

  4. #4
    Short-Change-Hero
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    Lots of steel bikes out there and yes Steel is REAL!
    Also look at the On-One Inbred.
    If you can find one look for the Bianchi SOK.

  5. #5
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    There's also the Jamis Dragon and the Kona Honzo. If you were interested in aggressive AM hardtails like the Niner ROS9 or Honzo, there is also the Canfield Nimble 9. I have a Honzo and a SIR9 myself. I prefer the SIR9 for normal XC trails, especially if they are super twisty, which is most of the trails I usually ride. But if the trail has lots of big rocks, drops, or jumps, then the Honzo is the way to go.

  6. #6
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    If you can justify the cost of the Ritchey P29 that looks like such a cool frame.
    The Inbred is a great frame as well as the Kona Unit can be built as a geared bike.

  7. #7
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    I love my SPOT!
    "Serves you right to suffer." -The Wife (after being 2 hours late)

  8. #8
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    I have ridden an El Mariachi for the past 2 years and I highly recommend it.

  9. #9
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    I have a medium MCR 9 + cane creek 110 + fork for sale if you are interested, PM me.

    I just built up a '14 Nimble 9. Bought the wife a '14 el mariachi. Both are nice but very different from the MCR9 or SIR9

  10. #10
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    I have a 2011 salsa el mariachi. It is a great, neutral handling bike. I tried it against a niner and thought that it handled a bit quicker. It is not the lightest steel bike you will find, but it is nice and pretty inexpensive compared to some.

    Randall

  11. #11
    stillanoob
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    Transition Trans AM.

  12. #12
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    +1 on the El Mar. I have a 2013 and its a great frame for the price.
    Tahoe29er

  13. #13
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    If you are a size large I have just the thing for you.

    Selling my Canfield N9 to go full squish.

  14. #14
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    Size XL. Open for other offers though - Frame or complete bike.

    The more research I do the more I'm starting to like the idea of the AM hardtail geometry like the Niner ROS, Transition Trans AM, and Canfield Nimble. Sounds like it might be the perfect all around bike setup?

  15. #15
    Rogue Exterminator
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    Quote Originally Posted by slcdawg View Post
    I love my SPOT!
    Agreed, I have a Spot Honey Badger and it is incredible.
    It is a single speed but they have a geared version too.

    Also been thinking about adding a 1x10 Hard Tail to the quiver and the Kona Honzo is on the top of the charts. Either that or another HB and run an internal geared hub with a belt drive.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by abelfonseca View Post
    I have ridden an El Mariachi for the past 2 years and I highly recommend it.
    Another vote for the El Mariachi. It's a fantastic, affordable, versatile bike.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by abelfonseca View Post
    I have ridden an El Mariachi for the past 2 years and I highly recommend it.
    +1 for El Mariachi!
    Last edited by Max24; 03-08-2015 at 10:35 PM.

  18. #18
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    I have an El Mar and I love it 3x9 with a Reba SL. So stable, nimble and FUN when things get fast... When considering upgrades to my bike the two I've considered are the IF Deluxe (I have a Crown Jewel steel road bike... nom nom) and the Ritchey P29.

    Custom Bicycles and Frames | Independent Fabrication | Steel, Titanium and Carbon Bike Frames

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprocket47 View Post
    Niner ROS (more aggressive geometry - not sure about that) ~$900 frame
    I ended up more unsure of EBB design than the modern AM geometry.

    Several or at least a hand full of bikes have that geometry (modern/AM/fun/low/slack/short cs) and best chance of trying it is probably a Kona dealer just because of dealer network size.

    So far that style bike has been more fun and used more than I ever expected, but I'm not on one style rider. It lets me have big wheel advantage XC riding and also go steep, jump, pump track and get 90 deg sideways.

    Friends who own or owned TranAM have loved them the way I do my Honzo. If I had fancier, special or boutique in mind I'd move up the food chain to a Nimble 9 or a Walt Works custom.

    I don't know about your riding but my assessment of this new style is they're optimized for control and handling if a traditional bike's optimized for grunting out a race or traction to the rear wheel. The minor adjustment of weight climbing has been worth what I get in handling and fun.

    Have fun!

  20. #20
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    I'm starting to think about a '14 El Mar. I like the combo of a short rear end but still something reasonably quick up front--I think that would work well for my local trails (twisty, not a lot of downhills) Of course, the KM is similar, but I'm still recovering from the horrors of track ends + discs on my Krampus.

    I tried an AM type bike and really didn't like it for my style of riding. If you can, try to demo this type of geometry before you commit.

  21. #21
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    An El Mariachi with a 120mm fork is a blast to ride fast in the chunk. I ride an XL 2013 El Mariachi Ti and it rips. Salsa is one of those brands where it almost makes more sense to build from a frame, as the complete parts specs are a little lacking for price. The steel rides a little softer than the Ti frame, but by no means is it a wet noodle. I really like the alternator drop outs, as I go back and forth between SS and Geared. They are much nicer than sliders. If you are looking for a similar thing but only intend to run it geared, I think the new Karate Monkey frame from Surly has a new modular drop out system that will allow you to run a thru axle or vertical drop outs.
    "...when I stand to climb I'm like the Hulk rowing the USS Badass up the Kickass River."
    -michaelscott

  22. #22
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    if you dont get the ROS 9 (or similar), you're gonna make a big mistake
    short rear , slack front is where it is at

  23. #23
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    I've tried a few and my Blackbuck turns better (FOR ME) than the others. The primary liability of this frame is that it must be SS or 1X. Watch out for some of the "AM-type" steel frames (I weighed a popular one and it was 7+#).

  24. #24
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    Chrome Nimble 9

    Steel 29er recommend-201407a7_02998.jpg

  25. #25
    29er
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    Loved my nimble 9

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by seat_boy View Post
    I'm starting to think about a '14 El Mar. I like the combo of a short rear end but still something reasonably quick up front--I think that would work well for my local trails (twisty, not a lot of downhills) Of course, the KM is similar, but I'm still recovering from the horrors of track ends + discs on my Krampus.

    I tried an AM type bike and really didn't like it for my style of riding. If you can, try to demo this type of geometry before you commit.
    It appears you did that with a longer stem, and I have no idea what bar length you used. It still may be the bike is not for you, but I noticed all the difference in the world when my move to slack, low and shorter chain stays included shorter stem and wider bars.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan GSR View Post
    if you dont get the ROS 9 (or similar), you're gonna make a big mistake
    short rear , slack front is where it is at
    A little time getting used to short stems and wide bars made all the difference for me. My Covert is more of a granddaddy for modern geometry, by park bike has it, same for the Honzo. Short stems and wider bars really made a big difference.

  27. #27
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    I've always ridden with a really long stem 100-120, XC style. The short stem and slacked headtube will be a big change for me in a hardtail. How do you hunker down and grind on the flats with a bike like this? That was part of my frustration with my FS Camber. I rode a few miles on road to get to a trail and felt like I was riding a cruiser and I couldn't put my head down and go.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprocket47 View Post
    I've always ridden with a really long stem 100-120, XC style. The short stem and slacked headtube will be a big change for me in a hardtail. How do you hunker down and grind on the flats with a bike like this? That was part of my frustration with my FS Camber. I rode a few miles on road to get to a trail and felt like I was riding a cruiser and I couldn't put my head down and go.
    I just don't put any thought to it at all. I just bend my elbows when I want to cut the wind, and notice I have less or no more problems with numb hands and sore neck for added bonus. It seems like this bike style gets the "attack position" with ease. Maybe my bikes with this style stem and bar are just designed right for me or my old for mountain biking age.

    This no way means I'm saying this is right for you. You should delay gratification and try all sorts of bikes to know what's right for you. Go fund some demo days at trail heads or places that rent late model bikes for a great way to know what might be right.

  29. #29
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    Love me some El Mar!

  30. #30
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    Nimble 9...such a SMOOTH and fun riding frame. I miss mine. Only sold it to feed my carbon frame addiction but I will have another N9 in time.
    Cannondale F29 carbon
    Jamis Renegade Elite
    Kona Big Unit SS/full rigid
    Kona Private Jake SSCX (build in progress)

  31. #31
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    Steel 29er recommend

    Quote Originally Posted by tomcraw View Post
    Chrome Nimble 9

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Gorgeous...

  32. #32
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    Kona Honzo, I'm biased though
    Steel 29er recommend-img_0296_zpse773bfd8.jpg
    Steel 29er recommend-img_0298_zps498a9efe.jpg
    Steel 29er recommend-img_0308_zps5abd75ca.jpg
    Steel 29er recommend-img_0314_zps64f68bbc.jpg

  33. #33
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    Steel 29er recommend

    If your big complaint about the Camber is that it rode like a tank, I'd be a little worried about an AM hardtail giving you the same feeling. They tend to be built up heavy (frame and components) and designed slack.

    A more XC-oriented steel 29er will be more nimble and the frame will weigh less.

    My favorite steel 29er is still the SIR9. The EBB creaking issues have been worked out, if installed properly.

    That said, the SIR9 (at least the older version, as I haven't ridden the 2013 redesign) was a bit too compliant for some bigger guys.

    For bigger fellas, I'd recommend the kona unit. It gets lots of love from owners, has a dialed geometry, and is priced right. I ride the 2013 version and love it. It's definitely stiffer than the pre-2014 SIR9 but still has that steel-is-real ride quality. Hope my 2 cents helps.

  34. #34
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    Jamis Dragon Sport. I have mine down to 27lbs. Doesnt feel like a tank any longer. Only because I have swapped out everything except for the frame and fork.


  35. #35
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    A 26-29lb ht with 4" of travel and 29" wheels you intend to shred real trails is not a tank.. Its a stable, ride anything vehicle.. Steel is a lifestyle , folks who ride steel like the compliance and sturdy feel. My steel road and mtb bikes are fairly light (20/25lb), Ive ridden lighter aluminum and carbon and they always felt sketchy /whippy for my 200lb long frame. Fwiw felt the same when I was 180.

    that said, 4 mountain biking a little upper body strength training in the winter does a lot of good for epic riding in the spring /summer / fall. Of course that's where steel really shines, on those longer rides when you are more comfortable on a slightly heavier bike and don't want to go home!

  36. #36
    AOK
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    Steel 29er recommend

    Check out the Vassago VerHauen. Nice riding steel frame that can be run with 100-120mm fork. Frame is made in the USA too.

  37. #37
    mtnbkr4life
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  38. #38
    lurking no more
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spillway View Post
    If your big complaint about the Camber is that it rode like a tank, I'd be a little worried about an AM hardtail giving you the same feeling. They tend to be built up heavy (frame and components) and designed slack.
    have your owned a nimble 9 or similar?
    i found the my experience to be very different
    i used to own a MCR which has the same geometry as your SIR
    i found the MCR to be a tiny bit better at low speed (<5mph)
    but at high speed it wasn't stable
    i got a nimble 9 after the MCR
    MUCH better handling, gave me way more confidence, and i could carry much more speed in the corners

  40. #40
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    I am on a custom Quiring steel frame now but also had the newer version 2013 Niner SIR 9 and it was definitely stiffer than the older version MCR which I also owned. Very nice steel frame for the money. The opportunity for the custom was too hard to pass up for me but I would have been very happy on the SIR. In fact I have thought about building another one up as a second bike just because.

  41. #41
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    Steel 29er recommend-sam-honey-badger-10-1-1-.jpgSpot Brand Honey Badger XL, Coming from a Ti Merlin Newsboy was not sure what to expect but the Animal leg stays and the compliance for this frame is awesome , Mine has a MRP 490 mm Carbon rigid fork and will some other upgrades got my weight down to 21.9 lbs , Granted it's a Single speed but if you need gears they are available but the Gates Belt system is Fabulous for me and seldom ride my Klien Attitude gear bike.
    Nice Spot Rocker frame on Fee bay for 499.00 in XL. RIGHT NOW

  42. #42
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    One vote for Kona Unit. I built one up into a 2x9 a while back. I love it so much I bought another, complete Unit that my shop had leftover. Coming from a Dos Niner, the Kona feels snappier and easier to maneuver, IMO.

  43. #43
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    Chromag surface

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