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  1. #1
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    Trek GF Marlin 29er vs. Giant Talon 29er 2 vs. Specialized Hardrock 29er?

    Hey Everybody... been lurking this forum for a while and am loving it so far... lots of great info.

    I rode like crazy in college, but have been out of practice for a long while and am getting back into it now that all my kids are finally off training wheels and are wanting to hit some paths and light trails... and at 35, riding for fitness is much better on my knees than running nowadays.

    I'm looking for an entry-level 29er hardtail (4 kids, a wife, and me = 6 bikes, so my budget is about $750 max) and after a few trips to my LBS and lots of research on the web, I have it narrowed down to 3 bikes:

    Trek Gary Fisher Marlin 29er
    Giant Talon 29er 2
    Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc 29er

    http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...dtails/marlin/
    http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/...11/6966/43134/
    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/...cname=Mountain

    Any thoughts? Advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Back off man... I'm a scientist

  2. #2
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    I'm no expert by any means, but I would ride each one and see which one draws you in the most. You could almost flip a coin between those bikes. I like Giant and Specialized, but Trek is good too. Maybe someone seasoned could break down the componets a little more than me. Good luck.

  3. #3
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    I would go for the Giant the brakes are better and the fork doesn't seem any better or worse than the forks on the other bikes.

  4. #4
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    I bought a 2010 Hardrock 29er at the end of 2009 and I absolutely love it. I'm a clyde and it has held up surprisingly well for me over many miles of singletrack. The brakes do need a little adjustment from time to time, but they stop effectively.

  5. #5
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    I do realize that all three are entry-level bikes with entry-level components and are quite similar... and I most definitely do plan to ride all three. I rode the Giant this week and will be testing the Marlin and Hardrock this weekend. I'm just wondering if any one of them would better serve me as a base bike that I could customize and add to as time goes by. I don't plan to go crazy with custom components... eventually, I'll just upgrade to a better bike and give this one to one of my kids. But I'm sure I'll tinker with the brakes and handle bars and stem and saddle and pedals, etc, etc.
    Back off man... I'm a scientist

  6. #6
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    ???
    Back off man... I'm a scientist

  7. #7
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    I saw a Giant Talon 29er in red/black at a shop the other day and that was a great looking bike.
    You can probably get any of those 3 at a little discount off MSRP, negotiate, there's always a difference between asking and selling price
    I bought a 2011 Hardrock 29er non-sport, not really much of a point in spending the premium for the sport model if you plan on riding often on trails as many of these components will require replacement anyway.

    Try to find a good used Rockhopper in your price range locally with a bike club site if you have one.
    Hardrock 29er, Niner EMD9, Cannondale F29, Camber Expert, 650b Nickel all gone.
    2014 Giant Anthem 27.5 here.

  8. #8
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    The Giant Talon and Fisher Marlin were designed for 100mm travel. The Marlin uses the same frame geometry as the Mamba & Cobia. FWIW: Fisher forks are custom offset meaning replacement changes geometry unless you can find another G2 spec fork. The Talon has a great frame and good parts for it's price. It's tapered headset and 100mm travel are likely the future of 29ers. Ride 'em.

  9. #9
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    I would go with the Talon because its components seem comparable to the those used on the other two bikes and its brakes are much better. The MX-4's and the BB7's are the best brakes mechnical brakes that you can buy,they define that entire category.

  10. #10
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    the Giant frames seem a bit more comfy. the Fisher geometry is more advanced and the Specialized name brand takes up more budget than the component group.
    I worked at a Giant/Trek dealer when the new fisher line came out. If I had the cash to spend, I'd get the Giant.

  11. #11
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    Thanks for the information everybody. I rode the Marlin yesterday and liked it a lot. I'm going back to ride the Talon one more time today and will then make a decision. At this point, it a toss-up... both bikes feel very similar. It might come down to components. The LBS Trek dealer is about 40 minutes from my house and the Giant bike shop is about 5 minutes from my house... so it might also come down to a matter of convenience.

    On a side note, the bike shop where I rode the Marlin had a used Myka HT Elite 29er that was in virtually brand-new shape priced for $700. So while I test-rode the Marlin, my wife test-rode that Myka and loved it, so we bought it on the spot and brought it home.

    So, 5 bikes down, 1 to go.
    Back off man... I'm a scientist

  12. #12
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    I just picked up a 2011 Spec HR comp 29er. This is my first mountain bike. So riding it around the block at the bike shop it seemed really comfy. I rode several bikes and liked the specialized. After getting it out on a few trails this past week, i really wish I had moved up to the expert. The Suntour fork is heavy. It is difficult to control the bike in tights and hard to get the wheel up. The bike is front heavy. I think some of it is getting used to a MTB handling in general, on top of it being a 29er.
    Still for 300 more i could have had the SL frame with lighter wheels and fork. I bought the bike 4 days ago, and am already looking to upgrade at least the fork and possibly the wheels.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jinxy
    The Giant Talon and Fisher Marlin were designed for 100mm travel. The Marlin uses the same frame geometry as the Mamba & Cobia. FWIW: Fisher forks are custom offset meaning replacement changes geometry unless you can find another G2 spec fork. The Talon has a great frame and good parts for it's price. It's tapered headset and 100mm travel are likely the future of 29ers. Ride 'em.
    FWIW I have a Gary Fisher Cobia and my G2 Tora was recently replaced with a Reba RLT. 46mm offset. Adjustable with spacers from 80-120mm. There was a difference at first but its very very minor. After two rides you cant even tell.

  14. #14
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    ... and if we just ...

    Quote Originally Posted by dissector
    Thanks for the information everybody. I rode the Marlin yesterday and liked it a lot. I'm going back to ride the Talon one more time today and will then make a decision. At this point, it a toss-up... both bikes feel very similar. It might come down to components. The LBS Trek dealer is about 40 minutes from my house and the Giant bike shop is about 5 minutes from my house... so it might also come down to a matter of convenience.

    On a side note, the bike shop where I rode the Marlin had a used Myka HT Elite 29er that was in virtually brand-new shape priced for $700. So while I test-rode the Marlin, my wife test-rode that Myka and loved it, so we bought it on the spot and brought it home.

    So, 5 bikes down, 1 to go.
    If you get the Trek Gary Fisher. Get the extra warranty red label or whatever its called. It covers everything. Hell I had two chains replaced already under the warranty. I just had my fork replaced as the lockout want that tight. They replaced the Tora with a Reba RLT Ti Dual air. Friggin win. I got a replacement for worth just under $600

    But a good local shop 5 minutes away is nice.

  15. #15
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    Ok... my dilemma continues. I think that the Marlin is out. Its a nice bike and rode well and looks good, but the Talon and the Hardrock just felt better to me. So at this point, I'm leaning about 60% Talon and 40% Hardrock... I've test-rode both bikes now three separate times and like them both very much from a riding standpoint and an aesthetic standpoint... The Hardrock is a flat $700 and the Talon is $739, so price is not an issue either. One thing that does stick out is that the Hardrock's stock pedals absolutely suck... they're terrible... but obviously that is an easy upgrade.

    Is it ridiculous that I'm agonizing this much over an entry-level $700 hardtail?

    One other question to you out in MTBR forum land: I keep reading that the Suntour fork is heavy. I'm not going to be doing a ton of technical riding, but I live on the Mississippi River bluff outside of St. Louis, MO, so there's lots of hills and many great trails and paved paths close by, so realistically I'll be doing some hard riding. Is the weight issue of that fork on the Hardrock enough to push me completely over to the Talon?
    Back off man... I'm a scientist

  16. #16
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    I'm going to go out on a limb and say the Giant will have a similar quality fork...

    The Giant and Spec are kinda a wash on components. Get whatever is more comfortable, I'd guess either would make a good platform for upgrades( infact I know the Hardrock is, and its got a bulletproof frame ).

  17. #17
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    Both bikes have Suntour forks but the Talon's are 100mm travel. The Talon also has the same rims as the XTC 2. Nothing wrong with the Hardrock or checking details before you buy. What matters most is how you feel on each.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by dissector
    .

    Is it ridiculous that I'm agonizing this much over an entry-level $700 hardtail?
    Absolutly not, take your time and get the bike you want.

  19. #19
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    Take your time... with that many kids I'm proud of you for having the $750!!!
    EAT, DRINK, AND BE MERRY... FOR TOMORROW WE DIE.

  20. #20
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    Hate to tell you but spend a little more and get the Talon 1 , better brakes and shifters, $150 more bucks , but then again , the talon 2 will be a great bike

  21. #21
    SSolo, on your left!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jinxy
    The Giant Talon and Fisher Marlin were designed for 100mm travel. The Marlin uses the same frame geometry as the Mamba & Cobia. FWIW: Fisher forks are custom offset meaning replacement changes geometry unless you can find another G2 spec fork. The Talon has a great frame and good parts for it's price. It's tapered headset and 100mm travel are likely the future of 29ers. Ride 'em.
    Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Special eyes
    Hate to tell you but spend a little more and get the Talon 1 , better brakes and shifters, $150 more bucks , but then again , the talon 2 will be a great bike
    Ya, that's what I'm saying too....15QR front axle with cartridge bearings. But everybody has their budget so do what you feel is right for you. I'd say that the Giant is slightly better spec'd than the Specialized, which one feels the best riding around the parking lot...to you?
    Last edited by Natedogz; 04-14-2011 at 03:40 PM.
    Get off the couch and ride!

  22. #22
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    Thanks for all the great advice and info everybody... it most definitely helped. I'm gonna go with the Talon 2... it just felt the best of all the bikes I test-rode and does seem to have the best components in the entry-level 29er category. While I agree that the Talon 1 is the better bike... at this point, I'm just not gonna ride hard enough to warrant the upgraded components... and also budget was a factor too. I've bought 4 kids bikes and my wife's bike in the last month, and including mine, managed to keep cost to $2500, which is exactly how much I budgeted. Since my birthday is in about a week or so, my kids are "buying" me the Talon... a great 36th birthday present for sure!!
    Back off man... I'm a scientist

  23. #23
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    Great choice going with the Talon, tried GT and Trek and ended up with a Talon 1; fits very well and has a good component group for the price.






  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Special eyes
    Hate to tell you but spend a little more and get the Talon 1 , better brakes and shifters, $150 more bucks , but then again , the talon 2 will be a great bike
    And it has hydraulic brakes and a front 15mm QR thru axle.

  25. #25
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    Got the Talon and got to ride an XTC Comp 29er

    Ended up buying the Talon yesterday.... should have it in a couple of days. I'm having my LBS switch out the pedals to Forte Convert platforms and the grips to Oury Lock-On's. Thanks to all that offered advice. Its definitely been an education here on MTBR forums.

    While I was at the bike shop, their Giant rep was there showing off the XTC Comp 29er 1. I got a chance to ride it around the parking lot and down the block. All I have to say is WOW... very sweet bike... Felt great, handled like a dream. Very interesting and unique geometry. I was riding a large and completely stock, it weighed in at 25 lbs and change. The down tube is MASSIVE... fatter and wider than a soda can for sure. $2500 and my guy at the LBS will have them in stock by June. Gonna start a fund now and will give one of my kids my Talon next year or so... hehe.

    Back off man... I'm a scientist

  26. #26
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    I am in the same dilema

    [QUOTE=dissector;8011869]Ended up buying the Talon yesterday.... should have it in a couple of days. I'm having my LBS switch out the pedals to Forte Convert platforms and the grips to Oury Lock-On's. Thanks to all that offered advice. Its definitely been an education here on MTBR forums.

    I am actually planning to upgrade my current bike (Giant Revel 2) to a 29er. I test rode a Cannondale SL4 29er and had a feeling of envy towards 29ers. After doing some research, I have been leaning now more towards the Giant Talon 2 or the Trek Marlin. So any thoughts on your current Talon 2? Any pro's or con's. Also, I just came across on a huge father's day sale coming up this weekend and supposedly one of the reps stated that he can get me a 2011 GF Mamba for only $742. If this is true I will definetly pick that up in a heartbeat but it seems to good to be true.

  27. #27
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    I recently went through the same thing.. Tried the Giant Talon 2 and Specialized Hardrock Disc.. Talon 2 rode better and geometry made it more comfortable... Very well balanced and solid bike... I didnt want to spend too much since this bike was for bringing my wife and kid around.. The suntour shock is not as bad as people say it is.. Mine feels very solid, yet very effective at absorbing bumps.. I am 140 lbs so maybe this fork is designed for lighter riders.. The only complaint is on the brakes.. Requires a bit more pull on the handle for good braking power... Not as responsive as my hydraulic brakes on my other mtb, but they get the job done.. I would suggest upgrading to the Talon 1 or 0 if this is your only bike..

  28. #28
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    I was looking at the Marlin, trek 4300, Felt Nine Trail and Felt Q520/620. Went to the LBS today and after test riding each of them multiple times, I ended up with...a Giant Talon 29er 2. Component set was pretty good for the price and it just felt the most comfortable - though I'll be changing out that saddle in a hurry.

    Moral of my story is, test as many bikes as you can and just go with what feels best.

  29. #29
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    29er to 26 FS?

    Quote Originally Posted by madsedan View Post
    I saw a Giant Talon 29er in red/black at a shop the other day and that was a great looking bike.
    You can probably get any of those 3 at a little discount off MSRP, negotiate, there's always a difference between asking and selling price
    I bought a 2011 Hardrock 29er non-sport, not really much of a point in spending the premium for the sport model if you plan on riding often on trails as many of these components will require replacement anyway.

    Try to find a good used Rockhopper in your price range locally with a bike club site if you have one.
    Hi, I notice on your signature you went from a 29er HT to a 26er FS.. any reason why? I am debating right now if I would like to go 29er HT or save up for a beefed up 26 HT or 26 FS...

  30. #30
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    Great thread. I'm in the same boat as well. My first MTB was a 2k FS that was stolen. Less cash and a little lighter in the saddle, I think something like the Giant Talon will serve me well for sometime!

  31. #31
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    Great information for this uninformed Mom to a 16 year old son who is in need of a new bike since he is growing like a weed. He is 5'8" and weighs a whopping 118 pounds. He has always been a very slender but very strong kid. I know right now he will need a medium frame (he had been on a small). The bike he has outgrown was a hand-me-down, so we are really far behind on knowing much about bikes. He is very committed to taking care of his bike, so we are thinking this next bike will last a long while.

    He rides a 14 mile rail to trail 3-4 times a week, and single track about 4 to 5 hours each weekend. His preference is single track.

    Our first question as we look at 29ers, as recommended by the LBS, are they user friendly to such a lightweight young man?

    He will be trying several out later this week:

    Hardrock Sport Disc
    Giant Talon 2 (and maybe the 1 if we can figure out the extra money)
    Trek Marlin

    Any input would be great!

  32. #32
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    Hi Mom,

    You should start a new post with this info. Im sure you would get a bunch of advice. You are looking in the right place here at MTBR and the brands you chose are great, but I cant comment on the size/height/29er to much. All i can say is he needs to try out a few and the LBS should be able to "fit" him properly to the bike. Then its a choice of preference and of course budget.

  33. #33
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    I don't think I can start a new thread until I have more posts. So this post will count towards my beginning total!

  34. #34
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    I am in the same boat. I wanted to get into mountain biking so I rushed and bought a much older used bike got some rides in and the rear shock broke. So I was going to fix the bike however I need to spend 300+. So I have decided to get a new bike. I have been driving myself and my car crazy driving all around looking at every bike I possibly can. I have narrowed my choices between the giant talon and the jamis exile. I cant find a Exile anywhere to ride it to test it out so I guess I am just going to go with the talon but still not sure.

  35. #35
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    After much research, my son chose to try out 4 different bikes: Cannondale SL4, Haro Flightline, another one he didn't like at all but doesn't remember what it was, and the Giant Talon 1. After multiple tries on them, he chose the Giant Talon 1. He LOVES it! BTW, my husband also loves it. I think another new bike is in our family's future!

  36. #36
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    I have the Giant Tallon. Very nice bike. Have made some changes though...sold the fork, put on a rigid one from Carboncycles, bought Mavic Crossmax wheels, sold brakes, put my old XT breakes on, put 2x9 transmission...rides like hell!

  37. #37
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    The Giant Tallon is awesome bike I am crossed between it and one that you have not mentioned FELT nine series.

  38. #38
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    great thread , so Far i have been looking at Trek , Kona , Motobecane , and now Giant , just when I think I have it narrowed down , the downside with the Motobecane I have found , is its mail order only , and the Giant seems to have more bang for the buck over the Trek , plus the frame is sweet looking , I'm sure something else will pop up before I find the one I want

  39. #39
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    Same here 12 Trek GF Marlin 29er vs. 11 Giant Talon 29er 2. Please help to pick one. I am 6'2 and 185lb. I think I need Large size for Giant and 19" for Trek. I am a beginner and as far as test drive I can not find a lot of difference in feel. I can get either one for 620 total.
    Need some advice. Are both good quality ? will last?

    Thank you

  40. #40
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    Being 6'2 you may be on the xl 21" size depending on feel for you. I am 6'1" and am in between L/19" and XL/21" sizes. I have had both but prefer the feel of the Large19-20" frames. So try them out but based on the numbers blindly you are looking at Xl/21" size but again ride and try

  41. #41
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    I agonized over this too, recently bought my first MTB and didn't want to spend over $700. Decided to go the semi DIY route and bought a GT Karakoram 3.0 for $299 at my LBS on blowout. Elixir 3 front and rear hydraulics for $130 online, Rock Shox RL Race 29 here on the forums for $200, and got a Carbon fiber straight bar on the way for $50.Not a bad setup at all for $680! I'm enjoying the hell of out this bike. So many good options at this price range.





  42. #42
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    i was in the same boat. Test road Trek Marlin, Mamba, & Cannaondale sl4. Ended up with the Cannondale. Just felt better, but LBS also gave me better service on CD.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by _Tricon_ View Post
    I agonized over this too, recently bought my first MTB and didn't want to spend over $700. Decided to go the semi DIY route and bought a GT Karakoram 3.0 for $299 at my LBS on blowout. Elixir 3 front and rear hydraulics for $130 online, Rock Shox RL Race 29 here on the forums for $200, and got a Carbon fiber straight bar on the way for $50.Not a bad setup at all for $680! I'm enjoying the hell of out this bike. So many good options at this price range.
    great looking ride, great idea, also if I can find the GT for that much it would help a lot.

  44. #44
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    Good looking bike

  45. #45
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    Good Choice on the Talon... I love mine...

  46. #46
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    Thanks for all the info provided here by everybody. I'm making the exact same decision on which 29er to get. I rode the Talon 2 and Talon 1 yesterday and will very likely be getting the Talon 2 very soon. The Talon 1 was amazing, but a bit out of my budget.

  47. #47
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    I think the giant's frame is the best of the three and the best in the price range. For specialized you need to go to the Rockhopper to equal frame quality. The Hardrock is a great frame for a sub $700 bike but the Talon is a great frame for a sub $1000 bike. Get the 2 and feel comfortable upgrading as you go. My gripe is they did water down components on the 2 from last year, but the price went down with it.

  48. #48
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    I'm kinda looking at the starter 29ers too, and the Talon is definately more appealing to me than the Marlin, but checking out a LBS site, the Scott Aspect 29 series seems to be some pretty good value too.

  49. #49
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    I have a 2012 Talon 1 and I love it.

    I also tried the Trek line, but the Giant just felt more comfortable. You can convert to tubeless using the Talon stock wheels and the Stan's flow strips. For me the fork is just fine, but I can understand the upgrade will lighten up the front some.

    For size I have a large. I am 6'1" with a 34" cycling inseam and it is just right. The XL felt too big when I tried it.

  50. #50
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    Been looking at the Talons myself. I have a chance to get either a 11 or 12 year Talon 2 for around the same price. Any thoughts?

  51. #51
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    I bought a Revel 1 (26in) in March. Rode it for a few weeks and was disappointed. The bike shop allowed me to trade it in for full credit towards a Talon 29er 2. What a difference!!!! Very happy with it.

  52. #52
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    Hi,
    It has been a few mos since you purchased the Talon. How do you like it?
    I am currently looking at the same bikes plus a cannondale trail 5... but am hoping to see something similar used before I take the plunge.

  53. #53
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    Love my Giant Talon 2

    I just picked up a Giant Talon 2 about 2 weeks ago. I was tossing between this, a Specialized Hardrock, and Trek Marlin. I had a Rock Hopper back in 93(my first bike), and I was amazed by how far mountain bikes have come. I just loved the feel of the Giant and loved its look. I also got a killer deal from the Giant Cycle world shop in Littleton, CO near where I live. They were trying to move out their 2012s to make room for the 2013, and they were throwing discount upon discount on all their 12s. They were able to knock down the Talon 2 to $436!!! I could've gotten a Talon 0 for $776 before tax, but I felt that getting the Talon2 for under $500(including tax) just seemed like it made sound financial sense for my beginner offroad bike status. I think the component set has been a great set-up for the green belt single track trails I have been riding in my neighborhood. The trails are very hilly and the bike just seems to tackle the terrain well. I wouldn't say I love the suntour fork, but I don't hate it either. It seems to do the trick for right now, but I would like to upgrade to a Reba or something comparable somewhere down the line as I start to conquer more of the mountainous terrain of the Rockies. I also would like to add that if anyone lives in the Denver area, the Giant Cycle world shop(1 of 2 in the nation) has excellent service. Those guys who work there will do anything to keep you happy and well informed. They also were very laid back regarding my 6 and 3 year old reeking havoc in the bike shop as I was contemplating my decision.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Trek GF Marlin 29er vs. Giant Talon 29er 2 vs. Specialized Hardrock 29er?-img_20130117_213550.jpg  

    Trek GF Marlin 29er vs. Giant Talon 29er 2 vs. Specialized Hardrock 29er?-img_20130117_213614.jpg  

    Trek GF Marlin 29er vs. Giant Talon 29er 2 vs. Specialized Hardrock 29er?-img_20130117_213530.jpg  


  54. #54
    El Gorrrriiii
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    212
    For the money and performance you can't go wrong with the Talon.

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