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  1. #1
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    New question here. Buying a new trail bike, going back to 26 inch

    Hello folks. I'm not entirely sure if this is the right subforum for this question. Anyway, I hope you'll bear with me.

    I'm going to be buying a new trail bike this summer. I ride technical singletrack with plenty of rocks and roots, a few drops up to about 3-4 feet. It has a lot of climbs and twisty terrain that favors low speed and a somewhat short wheel base, which is why I'm going to go back to 26 inch wheels after riding a 29 FS for a year.

    Now, I know that I need to get out and test ride a few bikes. But before then I'd like to get some preliminary input.

    I'm looking at bikes with something like a 67-68 degree head angle and 130-150 mm travel. I'm thinking about the Trek Fuel EX and the Stumpjumper FSR (not EVO). Unfortunately I don't think I'll be able to test both these bikes, so I'm wondering if anyone here has experience with both and is able to tell me how they compare.

    Finally, I'm looking for input from other rides who ride the same kind of terrain I do -- low speed, technical singletrack with steep climbs and descents. Drops up to about 3-4 feet. Which bikes do you recommend that I look into / test ride? What kind of travel / geometry do you prefer on these kinds of trails?

  2. #2
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    Buying a new trail bike, going back to 26 inch

    I'd check out the Yeti SB66 as well!

  3. #3
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    For low speed technical single track with rocks and roots, steep climbing + descending with drops, you might want a DW link or VPP bike who's power won't be sucked away under compression:

    Santa Cruz Blur LT (140mm)
    Pivot Mach 5.7 (145mm)
    Turner 5 spot (5.5 in)
    Ibis Mojo (150mm)
    SB66 as Bob Saget stated

    I like a 67.5ish head angle for technical climbing with drops and heavy decents. All those are right around 68-67.5, and if you want to go slacker you could try a 10mm longer fork (than recommended), and/or a higher stack lower cup, or a 1.0 degree works angleset which works with a tapered steerer.

    If you do drops 3-4 feet now, all those will hold up, but, you might find yourself wanting to go bigger as you get more comfortable with those over time (I did). If you think you'll go any bigger, consider a beefier bike, like a Knolly Chilcotin (160mm), Ibis mojo HD, or a Pivot Firebird (167mm). A bigger bike like these will open up possibilities, but yeah you'll feel it on tight steep technical single track. I'm no free-rider but my firebird really helped me take my jumps and drops up a notch.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the replies.

    You've recommended a lot of good short link bikes, but unfortunately I don't live in the US and these bikes tend to be marked up by a huge amount here in Europe. Bikes like SC and Turner are already pretty expensive, but in my country they are marked up by about 50%. Otherwise an Ibis Mojo would be high on my list

    I'm limited to big manufacturers like Specialized, Trek and Giant. I'm also looking at bikes from Lapierre, Cube and Canyon.

    Nearly all European manufacturers use some version of Horst Link, which I honestly think is quite good for technical climbing because of its active nature. But I do see the appeal of VPP and DW link.

    If anyone has some experience with the regular Stumpjumper Comp 26" I'd be interested to hear about it. It seems like my local Specialized dealers have gone into full 29er mode, so this model isn't available as a test bike.

    I may be able to test the Evo 26er, but although I like the RCT3 fork I think it may be too much for my use.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclismo View Post
    Thanks for the replies.

    You've recommended a lot of good short link bikes, but unfortunately I don't live in the US and these bikes tend to be marked up by a huge amount here in Europe. Bikes like SC and Turner are already pretty expensive, but in my country they are marked up by about 50%. Otherwise an Ibis Mojo would be high on my list

    I'm limited to big manufacturers like Specialized, Trek and Giant. I'm also looking at bikes from Lapierre, Cube and Canyon.

    Nearly all European manufacturers use some version of Horst Link, which I honestly think is quite good for technical climbing because of its active nature. But I do see the appeal of VPP and DW link.

    If anyone has some experience with the regular Stumpjumper Comp 26" I'd be interested to hear about it. It seems like my local Specialized dealers have gone into full 29er mode, so this model isn't available as a test bike.

    I may be able to test the Evo 26er, but although I like the RCT3 fork I think it may be too much for my use.
    if i was in europe i'd look hard at yt industries. great design and killer spec like canyon and cube, but i like the design and looks of yt better myself. the wicked looks just that, wicked

    Wicked Pro-20131700

    i still prefer the ride of a well designed horst link over a mini link that relies on chain tension to counter-act power induced suspension bobbing. i want my suspension active all the time

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclismo View Post
    Hello folks. I'm not entirely sure if this is the right subforum for this question. Anyway, I hope you'll bear with me.

    I'm going to be buying a new trail bike this summer. I ride technical singletrack with plenty of rocks and roots, a few drops up to about 3-4 feet. It has a lot of climbs and twisty terrain that favors low speed and a somewhat short wheel base, which is why I'm going to go back to 26 inch wheels after riding a 29 FS for a year.

    Now, I know that I need to get out and test ride a few bikes. But before then I'd like to get some preliminary input.

    I'm looking at bikes with something like a 67-68 degree head angle and 130-150 mm travel. I'm thinking about the Trek Fuel EX and the Stumpjumper FSR (not EVO). Unfortunately I don't think I'll be able to test both these bikes, so I'm wondering if anyone here has experience with both and is able to tell me how they compare.

    Finally, I'm looking for input from other rides who ride the same kind of terrain I do -- low speed, technical singletrack with steep climbs and descents. Drops up to about 3-4 feet. Which bikes do you recommend that I look into / test ride? What kind of travel / geometry do you prefer on these kinds of trails?
    For low speed twisty rocky-rooty terrain, I would not worry too much about a really slack head angle. 68 is plenty slack for that, IMO. ALso, I've owned two DW-Link bikes, and while one (MKIII) was reasonably good at remaining active pedaling over roots and rocks, the other (Turner 5-Spot) is not. I think that for what you are describing, Horst-Link is still a good way to go.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  7. #7
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    Re: Buying a new trail bike, going back to 26 inch

    If you have access to GT bikes check out the Distortion, sounds perfect for you.

  8. #8
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    Re: Buying a new trail bike, going back to 26 inch

    Giant Reign would fit your requirements. I have one and think it is an excellent value. Reign X if you are biased towards downhills.

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    No offense to those who suggested it, but the Yeti SB-66 is about as far from short wheelbase as you can get. I think it's a nice design and the Carbon version is totally lust-worthy, just not in this application. It's long and low design is better for ripping straight to large radius turns found in the western us, not cleaning tight tech of the northeast, or apparently that found in cyclismo's area.

    For that type of terrain, the Pivot 5.7 and 5 Spot would be better tools, but cost prohibitive.

    The Trek or Stumpy FSR would fit the bill. One reservation I have about most of Trek's FS frames are the proprietary Fox shocks they require. I think the suspension design is nice, but what if you want to throw a Monarch Plus on there? +1 for the Stumpy.

    Would you consider used? There's a lightly used 2011 5 Spot for sale here in the classifieds with free shipping (not mine). It's possible this seller works for (or has hookups with) UPS or Fedex and might be willing to ship overseas...for free. Just a thought.

  10. #10
    > /dev/null 2&>1
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    Re: Buying a new trail bike, going back to 26 inch

    Good point k1 creeper!
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  11. #11
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    If I lived in Europe, the allure of Cube, Canyon and YT would be hard to ignore. Especially since they get such good reviews...

    If you like DW's bikes, he's licensed his "Split Pivot" to BH. In a recent interview on Vital, he said his "one bike for a desert island" would be the BH Lynx 6. Seems like pretty high praise given that he's worked on some pretty impressive bikes...
    continuous growth is the strategy of a cancer cell.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by k1creeker View Post

    Would you consider used? There's a lightly used 2011 5 Spot for sale here in the classifieds with free shipping (not mine). It's possible this seller works for (or has hookups with) UPS or Fedex and might be willing to ship overseas...for free. Just a thought.
    If I bought used, it'd have to be from a manufacturer that lets you transfer warranty. I think Turner might do that, actually... Anyway, the used market is pretty good here in Norway, lots of people keep their bikes for one season and sell them off. I've seen a few 5 spots on the used market.

    But I prefer to order a 2014 model at a 25% discount, or maybe pick up a 2013 model after the summer.

    The GT Distortion may be a bit too much, but the Force is viable. I'm a big fan of GT's isolated drivetrain, although I think it may be inferior to Maestro and DW. The Force is just a bit... ugly.

    The Cube AMS 150 is a good pick: CUBE*AMS 150 Super HPC Race It has 150 mm travel, 68 degree HT, 114 cm wheelbase (2 cm shorter than Stumpy Evo). It also has a carbon frame at the same price as the Evo.

    OK, I realize that this thread is turning into me thinking aloud, so I'll ask one more question: will a classic 67 degree, 150 mm bike be too much for the kind of riding I do (technical singletrack, max 3-4 feet drops)? Will I end up as one of those guys who owns a big bike and uses only 2/3 of its travel?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclismo View Post
    Thanks for the replies.

    You've recommended a lot of good short link bikes, but unfortunately I don't live in the US and these bikes tend to be marked up by a huge amount here in Europe. Bikes like SC and Turner are already pretty expensive, but in my country they are marked up by about 50%. Otherwise an Ibis Mojo would be high on my list

    I'm limited to big manufacturers like Specialized, Trek and Giant. I'm also looking at bikes from Lapierre, Cube and Canyon.

    Nearly all European manufacturers use some version of Horst Link, which I honestly think is quite good for technical climbing because of its active nature. But I do see the appeal of VPP and DW link.

    If anyone has some experience with the regular Stumpjumper Comp 26" I'd be interested to hear about it. It seems like my local Specialized dealers have gone into full 29er mode, so this model isn't available as a test bike.

    I may be able to test the Evo 26er, but although I like the RCT3 fork I think it may be too much for my use.
    If i were you, and since i live in Europe, i would buy my BlurLTc


  14. #14
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    Why not go with less travel, try a Trance and put a Works headset to get it slacker.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclismo View Post

    Finally, I'm looking for input from other rides who ride the same kind of terrain I do -- low speed, technical singletrack with steep climbs and descents. Drops up to about 3-4 feet. Which bikes do you recommend that I look into / test ride? What kind of travel / geometry do you prefer on these kinds of trails?
    The Trek rides a little more stiff and up in the travel. The Stumpy tends to absorb terrain more. There's neither wrong or right. They're both solid bikes and it's individual rider preference.

    There's a lot of bikes in that class that are frankly awesome. In that class I've tried the Transition Bandit 26, Norco Sight 26, Ghost Lector and various 650b bikes that are priced so high that I'm reluctant to recommend them because (i) they're not available and (ii) they'd be way outside the price range of the bikes you've named.

    Basically for that kind of terrain I like bikes that can change direction and speeds quickly. I'm not as worried about top end speed. Both the bikes you named would do very well.

    Because you're in Europe I'd be looking at bikes like Canyon, Ghost, YT which are stupidly inexpensive
    Locals' Guide to North Shore Rides http://mtbtrails.ca/

  16. #16
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    But more travel is fun too!

    The Trance isn't a bad idea. The question is basically if I should go for 68ish HA and 130-140 mm travel or 67 HA and 150 mm travel.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclismo View Post
    OK, I realize that this thread is turning into me thinking aloud, so I'll ask one more question: will a classic 67 degree, 150 mm bike be too much for the kind of riding I do (technical singletrack, max 3-4 feet drops)? Will I end up as one of those guys who owns a big bike and uses only 2/3 of its travel?
    Yup to your question. Almost certainly but if that's what you want its your money.

    That Blur LTC is an awesome bike; only drawback to me is that it doesn't do bottle cages but that's my personal thing.

    Given that you live in Norway you almost certainly want good local support since your trails are hard on bikes.
    Locals' Guide to North Shore Rides http://mtbtrails.ca/

  18. #18
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    Your terrain sounds a lot like my local trails. I tend to go a little bigger on the jumps and drops but everything else sounds spot on. I started with the regular stumpjumper and liked it a bunch. After about a year I upgraded the bike to the evo version. I would say the evo with 150mm travel and 67 head angle is just great. It doesn't give up a lot on the climbs and technical stuff but you gain a ton of stability on the downhills and drops. I would say either stumpjumper would suit you well, but don't be scared to try out the evo. It's a blast!

  19. #19
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    Ever considered a Nicolai AM? HA 67. Travel adjustable between 135 -170.

  20. #20
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    Buying a new trail bike, going back to 26 inch

    OP - Don't ignore the 575... It gets overshadowed by the SB66 these days, but it's an awesome bike that can be built light or burly. A bit more active and plush than an SB66. Some like that. Some like the livelier feel of the SB. Geometry wise the 575 fits your parameters nicely.
    2011 Yeti 575 - 2015 Fox Float 36 RC2 160 / Fox Float X - 30.6 lbs

  21. #21
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    The SB-66 is a great bike, but it is a bit costly. I owned a Giant Reign for 3 years, and it was also an incredible bike. It pedaled better than most any bike in its class, and felt much more slack and stable at speed. The yeti felt a bit twitchy and nervous when going through rocks at high speed. I recommend the Giant without a moment's hesitation. Fantastic bike, and the price is incredibly low compared to other bikes in its class. Super fun bike.

    Oh, it also kills Specialized fsr bikes in terms of overall performance. There is simply no way to tune a Speshy linkage to cover the range of pedaling efficiency and downhill performance.
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  22. #22
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    The Giant Reign seems like a perfect choice. The Reign 1 is only 29 pounds with a dropper post, according to a review. That's light for a bike with full SLX and probably a slightly heavy wheelset.

  23. #23
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    Re: Buying a new trail bike, going back to 26 inch

    Quote Originally Posted by charging_rhinos View Post
    The SB-66 is a great bike, but it is a bit costly. I owned a Giant Reign for 3 years, and it was also an incredible bike. It pedaled better than most any bike in its class, and felt much more slack and stable at speed. The yeti felt a bit twitchy and nervous when going through rocks at high speed. I recommend the Giant without a moment's hesitation. Fantastic bike, and the price is incredibly low compared to other bikes in its class. Super fun bike.

    Oh, it also kills Specialized fsr bikes in terms of overall performance. There is simply no way to tune a Speshy linkage to cover the range of pedaling efficiency and downhill performance.
    What fork was on the Yeti? It screems for 34mm og bigger stanctions...

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobsaget View Post
    I'd check out the Yeti SB66 as well!
    Yes. If (remind you, IF) I were in the market for a 26" double boinger at the moment the SB66 would be at or near the top of my test ride list.

  25. #25
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    I ride similar terrain to as you (upstate NY) and I am very satisfied with my knolly endorphin. I have an older model frame with a head angle of 68...which feels a touch too steep for the downhills. The newer model frames are at 67 and I have heard nothing but raving reviews.

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