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  1. #1
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    Who uses their Airborne as a AM/Trail bike?

    So I am 2-3 months into my first MTB ownership with an Airborne Seeker. I will admit I didn't really understand the whole XC, Trail, AM classifications when I bought the bike. At this point in my "education" I would describe XC as smooth off road, Trail as rough, rocky, rooty single track with moderate ups and downs. AM as Trail plus jumps/drops and long downhills and climbs.

    Since most Airborne's are XC bikes, do you restrict your riding to smooth dirt roads and trails???? My response to the question is I ride the trails in my area of MA, and most are clearly in the "Trail" category. A FS bike is better for the roots and rocks, but the Seeker is a HT. I am not running out to get a FS bike (maybe in a few years) but I did put a 40mm stem and wider (750mm) bars on my Seeker and I see a tire change in my future to a heavy wall tire to allow my 245 lbs to ride with much lower (softer) pressure.

    I would love some feedback on what others ride/don't ride with their bikes and what changes you made to expand the bike's capabilities???

  2. #2
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    I think the lines between all the different disciplines get pretty blurred and ambiguous, so it's probably not all that important to classify yourself into something. Yes, most of the Airborne flagship bikes are "XC" but the biggest difference I've seen between "XC" and "Trail" is usually just 20-30mm more travel on the suspension, maybe slightly shorter chainstays. Once you start talking AM/Enduro you are bumping up to 140-160mm of travel, slacking out the HT angle, and 650b/27.5" seems to be the favored wheel size for this category.

    All that being said, the trails in KY around me are very wooded, lots of trees, lots of roots and rocks, and lots of hills. Traditional definition would definitely put them into the "trail" category with a few areas having some DH/Super-D sections with jumps and drops. I have found the Hobgoblin to be more than enough to handle everything although I don't hit the jumps and stuff on the DH trails. While I had a guardian it did well around here also.

    I'm sure an AM/Enduro bike might handle this area a little better, but for me the HG does what I need it to. Lately I've found myself spending a lot of time staring at JHazard's 650b proto pictures, but that's a whole 'nother topic altogether!

    edit: to answer your other question I've also shortened up the stem to 70mm and widened the bars to 720 which is about as wide as I can go without running into clearance issues squeezing through trees. I also converted the tires to tubeless and went with a 2.35 wide front maxxis ikon. From a "capability" standpoint converting to 1X10 has also made a big difference in this area because of how drastic some terrain changes are, with wider spacing between gears lets me get in the right gear with less shifting.

  3. #3
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    I'm not sure I would classify my use as all-mountain, or trail but I certainly ride my Guardian on a variety of terrain. I usually ride XC type stuff with a mix of smooth as well as mild rocks and roots. I've ridden some tough rocky downhills and small jumps with no issues. My brain has a hard time wrapping itself around bigger jumps and I don't want to test the Guardian's frame against my 270lbs and a big jump, so I avoid the big drops and jumps.

    As far as setup - I have added a 50mm stem with a 785mm handlebar. I ditched the third chainring and added a bashguard. There is a Bionicon C-Guide Eco to help tame the chainslap. The front tire is a beefy 2.4 On-One Chunky Monkey while the back is a 2.2 Bronson (the widest tire I can fit in there) both tubeless.

    So not quite an XC bike, nor has it become AM or Trail. But it's mine and I love it!

  4. #4
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    I actually have a Goblin Evolution and ride XC/trail. I just like the extra travel, slacker head tube, and more stout frame. I built a Goblin for my wife and she rides mainly XC but I know it could handle more.

  5. #5
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    I have a Goblin that I use to ride XC and rough trails. I originally purchased it thinking I was going to just be doing XC. Well, my riding has evolved and now I am doing mostly rough trails (new england tree roots, rock gardens, steep hills, etc)

    Some people may disagree, but in my opinion, learning to ride the rough stuff on a hardtail with less travel will make you a much better and more skilled rider.

    I plan on upgrading next year (either Goblin Evo or Airborne 650b full suspension) because I love riding the rough stuff. I will still keep my Goblin for the occasional XC duty.

    I'm running a 75mm stem on my Goblin and 720mm bars. Also running some beefier rubber front and back. I've been dishing out plenty of abuse hammering big rocks and roots at high speed downhill, and the bike is plenty capable. I have never attempted jumps or drops on this bike and I never will. I will wait until I get a full suspension for that stuff.

  6. #6
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    The main differences between the two are geometry, suspension travel, and ruggedness (stronger frame/wheels/components on an AM bike). An AM bike can really do every type of riding, just not as great as a specific bike. You can ride them on XC trails, but the slacker geometry, longer travel, and more weight (because a more rugged bike=heavier) makes it not as great as a XC bike in some parts of those type trails. You can take it right to the bike park and it will handle things fine, but in some areas the less slack geometry (relative to DH/FR bikes), shorter travel (relative to DH/FR bikes), and less ruggedness (relative to DH/FR bikes) makes it not as great as a dual crown DH bike or a bike like the Toxin in some parts of those type trails.

    Basically to me, an AM bike is for riding a fire road up the mountain, then bombing the trails going down. That's basically what the Enduro Races do on their AM bikes. The bike can do it all, but specific bikes will outperform it on specific trails.

    Airborne is coming out with a 27.5 AM bike soon apparently, and it looks pretty good. I know I'd love one in the future if I can get into that type of riding. Those Goblins look like really nice bikes too. I'd love one with 27.5 wheels, 120mm F/R travel, and 1x10 drivetrain. Perfect for Trail/XC riding I do now.

  7. #7
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    I ride my Hob XO in New Hampshire, which is by definition all roots and rocks. So I guess I use it more as a "Trail" bike than an "XC" bike. I won't be taking it to a DH park, but I feel it's up to anything else I want to throw at it.

  8. #8
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    An answer from an intermediate rider (about a 5 or 6 out of 10): I have the original goblin (modifications: 711mm bars, stans flow/dt swiss hub wheelset, and bontrager tires) and have ridden it on just about everything you described (except for outright downhill... I agree with chipperman above about not taking it to a downhill park....) Also, I am about the same weight as you (240 +/-)...

    To this day I still feel the bike is better at mountainbiking than I am and I have over 1200 miles on it... My thoughts are that at your skill/experience level you really don't need to worry about getting into such specifics because the bike will be able to handle everything you throw at it. It will become pretty obvious when you need to start focusing in on specific bikes for specific purposes (you will be REALLY good....) so as long as it feels comfortable to you go for it!
    I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.. Oh SH*T!!!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bttocs View Post
    So I am 2-3 months into my first MTB ownership with an Airborne Seeker. I will admit I didn't really understand the whole XC, Trail, AM classifications when I bought the bike. At this point in my "education" I would describe XC as smooth off road, Trail as rough, rocky, rooty single track with moderate ups and downs. AM as Trail plus jumps/drops and long downhills and climbs.

    Since most Airborne's are XC bikes, do you restrict your riding to smooth dirt roads and trails???? My response to the question is I ride the trails in my area of MA, and most are clearly in the "Trail" category. A FS bike is better for the roots and rocks, but the Seeker is a HT. I am not running out to get a FS bike (maybe in a few years) but I did put a 40mm stem and wider (750mm) bars on my Seeker and I see a tire change in my future to a heavy wall tire to allow my 245 lbs to ride with much lower (softer) pressure.

    I would love some feedback on what others ride/don't ride with their bikes and what changes you made to expand the bike's capabilities???
    This is why I sold my XC Airborne. If I could own 2 or more different kinds of bikes, I would have kept it. I did the same thing, way shorter stem, longer bars and different tires. I still bumped up on the limitations of it pretty quickly.

    The new hardtail AM bikes are quite capable at just about anything you throw at them. Climbing can be quite different, however, depending on the bike's geometry. The Kona Honzo makes you stay in a really neutral position while climbing, too far forward and you'll spin, too far backwards, and the front comes up, so there are tradeoffs. I believe it has the shortest chainstays of any 29er hardtail made.

    Beefier construction, wheels, and suspension, add the slack HT angle, chainstays, etc.. and you have a bike that does handle and feel quite different than an XC bike. Personally, I think XC bikes will be eventually partially eclipsed by bikes that can do a little of everything, since that's what most riders do, and is reflecting in the newer trails being built, and the younger generations of riders. I rarely see younger people riding or buying XC bikes.

    If you want race XC specifically, and/or you really like how those kinds of bikes can climb, than they are a good choice.


    However, when AM/trail bikes get pointed downhill, is when they shine. The difference, for me, is not just in the geometry, but on the size of the frame. Maybe it was all the years of freestyle/bmx, but I have a hard time on frames that, on paper, are supposed to fit me. I like them small, but that depends on the design. Even Airborne's smallest frame felt too big for me.

    In answer to your question, no I did not restrict my riding, but obviously there are parameters your bike just will never handle. In almost any situation it's 90% rider and about 10% bike.

    Btw, your first statement is exactly why it's a good thing, even if you don't buy a bike there, to hit some of your local bike stores. Yes, some suck, some are great, some are in between, but most of the time, someone there can explain the difference, AND you can get on multiple kinds of bikes and ride them. Some places have demo days where you can actually get them on a trail.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the comments. One thing I would like to mention is I am 6'4", 245lbs. I hit 3-4 bike shops before buying. Not one shop had a bike that would fit me. One tried to talk me into a dual sport bike and out of buying a mountain bike. I chaulk it up to not going to a good shop, but I didn't have very good experiences. Sometimes what advice you get is only as good as your questions, but I have learned a whole lot more on this forum, especially the Clyde section.

  11. #11
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    I'm 5'7" and had the same problem. 90% of the bikes were much too large. They don't stock a heck of a lot of small frames, unless they are women specific bikes. In fact, most of the pro bike reviews are for the larger or midsize size frames, almost never for the small size. Every bike maker makes large frames, and caters to larger riders. On the used market, medium and large frames are a dime a dozen. Much harder to find small frames, and when they are, they are usually bottom of the line Specialized Hardrock types.

    At the height of the 29er craze, I kind of gave up looking for a bike that I liked. I thank the stars that 27.5 building support, and that builders like Kona make 29er's that actually fit short people comfortably.

    I've only really had a bad experience in a bike store once or twice in the past 20 years of riding mtn bikes, and before that 10 years of BMX. Most bike stores nowadays know they are competing with the internet on prices, so they'll can be pretty accommodating.

    Good luck.

  12. #12
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    I have ridden my Goblin on XC and for sure that is where it shines. I have ridden it on more technical trails as well and it handled them fine. Having a few FS bujes I still prefer the HT scene. I think as we evolve as riders and our skills improve we want equipment that we can push to the limit. I wish the Goblin EVO had been out when I bought my Goblin. Its amazing what a nice set of wide tires lets you do off road. If Airborne ever makes a 27.5 HT I will buy it in a heart beat.

  13. #13
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    Just a heads up to short riders. My wife rides a 16" Goblin and she is 5'3". It fits her great, I put a 60mm stem on it and some narrower bars. You can also just cut bars down but this was a custom frame out build. The new low slung TT on the Goblin 16 really makes it easy to fit such a wide range of riders! As a side note, I am 5'11" and love my 18" Goblin Evo!

  14. #14
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    I wrote about this in my blog, but basically after I purchased my Seeker, I realized I wanted something a little more along the lines of a trail/AM bike. I ended up purchasing a Yelli Screamy Frame and started building it up how I wanted. Fortunately I had the Seeker to ride in the mean time. You can set up an XC bike to do most trail stuff. Once you get a feel for what you want/like, your best bet is to find a frame that fits your needs and build it the way you want....it's not cheaper, but you'll end up happier with the outcome.
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  15. #15
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    I have been reading a bunch of reviews on FS bikes from mtb mag's online. It seems to me that they get a little carried away with the classifications. I can see a DH bike being in its own class, since you basically get off a lift and fly downhill. The XC, trail, AM, and Enduro distinction seems a little over the top. I can see if you want to race, but otherwise dirt riding can be extremely variable. Why wouldn't you want a bike that is good at everything? I guess it is a good time to be getting into this sport, as there are bikes being sold now that ARE good at everything and seem to break through the classifications.

    My Seeker is a very capable bike and I am no where near its limits. I have been trail riding with a good sized group (6-10 riders) from work every week now, and I am typically on the only hardtail. I can see that I have to work a lot harder for my fun without the rear suspension, especially climbing rough steeps. I also have the only bike that gets ridden to work on the roads, and not driven on top of a car. I have also learned that some rocky, steep trails aren't worth trying to master, even if the bike can handle it. I am getting a pretty good sense of the plus and minus for the different type of bikes. Heck, before I bought the bike, I was debating between a hybrid, dual sport, and hardtail. Now I am thinking "how many mm of travel" does my future "one bike quiver" FS bike need to have. I plan to put a beefier set of tires on my Seeker and keep riding like hell. Even my dog has lost some weight chasing me on my local regular rides.

  16. #16
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    [QUOTE=Bttocs;11500009]I have been reading a bunch of reviews on FS bikes from mtb mag's online. It seems to me that they get a little carried away with the classifications. I can see a DH bike being in its own class, since you basically get off a lift and fly downhill. The XC, trail, AM, and Enduro distinction seems a little over the top. [QUOTE]

    I agree, but you can say that about every enthusiast. When you really get into something (whether it's stamps, guns, bikes, or cars) you tend to obsess and wax poetic about minutiae.

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    I completely agree

  18. #18
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    I think you'll find the more you ride, the more you'll appreciate the differences between classifications (but the industry can get carried away with their marketing campaigns!)

    Its about having the right tool for the job. If your kick is to really push the endurance, rack up miles and really rip some single track, there's nothing like a good XC bike to tear it up on.

    There's a loop close to the house I ride pretty frequently, and I'll take a different bike depending on how I want to ride it. It's not an overly technical trail by any means - it does have a few rocky sections and trick moves, but it's also not difficult to rack up a couple thousand feet of climbing on it (well, it IS difficult for ME!). On my wife's Hobgoblin, I feel like a rock star. Ride the suspension sort of stiff, seat high, narrower bars... Most of my PRs on this loop were on that bike, it just flys - it's in its element on most of this loop.

    The loop also has rocky, swoopy dh sections, as well as some tricky, chunky rock bits. The HG will negotiate these but it's really pushing the bike in places it's not really designed to go. The Prototype (6 inch travel front and rear, slack head angle and long wheelbase) rips these sections like no other bike.

    And of course, neither of these bikes would be very suitable for the real dh lines around here, or at a bike park. You CAN ride about any bike on any trail and have a lot of fun, but the small difference between each bike add up fast. It might be minutiae to the untrained eye, but 10-20mm more in travel, chain stay length, stem length, or bar width makes huge differences in how a bike handles.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bttocs View Post
    I have been reading a bunch of reviews on FS bikes from mtb mag's online. It seems to me that they get a little carried away with the classifications. I can see a DH bike being in its own class, since you basically get off a lift and fly downhill. The XC, trail, AM, and Enduro distinction seems a little over the top. I can see if you want to race, but otherwise dirt riding can be extremely variable. Why wouldn't you want a bike that is good at everything? I guess it is a good time to be getting into this sport, as there are bikes being sold now that ARE good at everything and seem to break through the classifications.
    To echo what Jerry said, there aren't really many bikes that are good at everything.

    Marketing hype of the moment will tell you that an All Mountain (or "Enduro" TM) bike is the only bike you'll ever need, but honestly that's not true. AM bikes just aren't that great at pure XC trails, which is really what 75-80% of the mountain biking public rides. Sure you can ride an AM bike on an XC trail and be fine, but its a super-human or great rider that can make such a rig keep up with other good riders on XC bikes on that trail. Put those same XC guys on a nasty, rough, rooty section of an Enduro race and they will get schooled by guys of similar ability on 6" travel AM steeds.

    When I started mountain biking back in the day, there was a "mountain bike" category only. Then along came Downhill with 4 whole inches of travel (wow!). So then the term "XC" came about to differentiate the two. And eventually all of the other categories in between popped up.

    They all have a place.

    To me the most blurry line is between "XC" and "Trail". It's generally an inch of travel difference and some different angles. I'm a little faster on an XC type trail on my XC bikes, but can ride nearly as fast and still have fun on the same trail on a "Trail" bike. The extra travel and slacker angles of the Trail bike do shine on rough trails like the Walnut and Schooner trails at Brown County.

    I have mostly XC bikes in my personal collection, but I also have a Trail, an All Mountain bike and a DH bike. The XC bikes get ridden the most but when I need one of the other ones, it's nice to have it for its intended purpose.

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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bttocs View Post
    So I am 2-3 months into my first MTB ownership with an Airborne Seeker. I will admit I didn't really understand the whole XC, Trail, AM classifications when I bought the bike. At this point in my "education" I would describe XC as smooth off road, Trail as rough, rocky, rooty single track with moderate ups and downs. AM as Trail plus jumps/drops and long downhills and climbs.

    Since most Airborne's are XC bikes, do you restrict your riding to smooth dirt roads and trails???? My response to the question is I ride the trails in my area of MA, and most are clearly in the "Trail" category. A FS bike is better for the roots and rocks, but the Seeker is a HT. I am not running out to get a FS bike (maybe in a few years) but I did put a 40mm stem and wider (750mm) bars on my Seeker and I see a tire change in my future to a heavy wall tire to allow my 245 lbs to ride with much lower (softer) pressure.

    I would love some feedback on what others ride/don't ride with their bikes and what changes you made to expand the bike's capabilities???

    Sorry, I meant to answer this original question!

    I think your definition of XC is probably a little too specific and maybe a little light, as there are some rougher parts of an XC trail. For example, most XC trails around here (except for one) do have some good sustained climbs and roots and rocks. Lung-burning climbs aren't unusual for an XC trail/ride.

    The difference between using a hard tail and a full susser is generally a preferential thing. I tend to ride my hardtails on all sorts of trails and terrain, but when I'm thinking of doing a long, all day ride I tend to gravitate toward my HobGoblin just for personal comfort.....

    A lot of bike set-up changes are going to depend on where you ride.

    Where I ride, there are a lot of trees. Close trees. So I personally run with a typical XC set up of 640mm-660mm wide bars and a 100mm stem. If I lived somewhere with wide open terrain I'd probably go shorter stem and wider bars..........

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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhazard View Post
    I think you'll find the more you ride, the more you'll appreciate the differences between classifications (but the industry can get carried away with their marketing campaigns!)

    It might be minutiae to the untrained eye, but 10-20mm more in travel, chain stay length, stem length, or bar width makes huge differences in how a bike handles.
    That's exactly my point. You are a serious biker and can really feel a difference between two relatively similar bikes. A guy who casually rides on a gentle XC trail once a month will not be able to discern as much difference. It probably doesn't make sense for that guy to have one of each "class" of bike.

    Another example is whiskey. My friend has really gotten into it over the past couple of years. He'll put two samples in front of me to taste and tell me about how much better one is or that one has a slight currant flavor, etc. It all tastes like gasoline to me.

  22. #22
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    For a person who rides once month? Maybe... one bike should do it all for that person. But I don't think that describes the OP. By the time a rider is tackling rougher, technical trails and questioning upgrades, I'd say they are approaching enthusiast territory. :P

    However - point taken. Skill level (and subsequent knowledge) definitely affects perception. I'm quite happy with good 'ol Wild Turkey!
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    Appreciate the expert insight into the different bikes. I used to ride dirt motorcycles as a kid, even did some Mx racing, so when I got out in the woods with my Seeker, it took me back and I remembered how much fun it is. I live across from a conservation forest. I just go out and ride what's in the woods. Some it is fire roads, there is also a fair amount of hiking paths which vary from smooth to some very rocky and rooty ones. The whole forest is spread over about 500 vertical feet of hills and valleys. On my first couple of rides, I assumed all the trails were ridable and I couldn't believe someone would ride a bike on some sections. Turns out no one does, they are hazardous to your health.

    I understand the bike classifications pretty well now, and realize they grew from bicycle technology improvements. Especially going down hill at speed. How about "trail" classifications and matching a bike class to a trail class. That doesn't get mentioned as much and I think that just doesn't work to well. Trails vary a lot, even the same trail, so it seems to be an individual choice of what bike you choose to ride on what trail. Each class of bike has a certain feel and capability and its up to the rider to choose what he likes for a given location. Since I only have one bike (poor me) my choice is do I ride it, walk it, or avoid it. I hope your proto bike is similar to the Pivot Mach 6 which seems to me to be a bike that can handle almost anything and doesn't have to much of a penalty when riding smooth trails (except price). Maybe its not as fast as a pure XC bike, but I personally am not too hung up on speed. I just like being challenged and then eventually conquering it and moving on to a bigger one.

  24. #24
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    Great info on this thread! I currently have a Seeker and I've discovered I'm more of an aggressive rider.

    "I just like being challenged and then eventually conquering it and moving on to a bigger one."

    That's exactly how I am. When I got my Seeker two months ago, I was only riding on smooth trails but soon, I began messing with rocks and small drop offs like this:

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    Now my dilemma: could the Seeker handle such riding style? Would it be worth switching to a Goblin Evo? Maybe wait for the 650B?

    I think I'm slowly becoming an enthusiast :P

  25. #25
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    The Seeker is an XC hardtail, so not really intended to be subjected to dirt jumps and drops, that's approaching Trail/AM/Enduro, or whatever the popular label is now

    Will it hold up to small jumps and small drops, I'm pretty sure - but you'll be taking the bike beyond its intended limits.

    The Goblin EVO is probably a better choice than the Seeker, for aggressive trial riding. But when drops begin getting in to the 2-3 foot level, again you're pushing the bike beyond its comfort zone.

    I'd say the 650 bike is going to be a great solution for those who still want to throw in a nice ride, but also have the option to take the hard lines, drops, jumps without fear of putting the bike up against something it can't handle. Of the people I ride with, there's a Pivot Firebird, Knolly Chilcotin, a Spec Eduro... the Airbrone Prototype is on the same page with all of those, and we ride some fairly chunky and technical terrain.

    I'd say if you're in to progressive riding, that is; technically challenging yourself and taking a pro-active approach to skill building, The EVO is solid choice, and the 650 would be optimum. The Seeker is an awesome bike, but I can see how a person could "grow out it" as their riding evolves...
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