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  1. #1
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    Going to aluminum from carbon, for enduro races and short training rides?

    I have a few carbon enduro bikes that don't have the perfect geometry that suits me. After learning a lot about bike geo from my bikes and some demo bikes, I'm pretty convinced the Commencal meta v4.2 can be my high-intensity 12 mile training bike and my enduro race bike.

    It's aluminum though and all I've ever owned is carbon bikes, since I started biking when carbon was already widely available for frames.

    Is it a step backwards to go to aluminum? Anyone done it?

  2. #2
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    I've done it. It's not a big deal. Frame material is a far overblown discussion in my opinion.

    One of the most fun, fastest bikes I've ever owned is a Banshee Spitfire. That bike was bookended by 2 very high end carbon frames, and I never once found myself thinking about the frame material. Sure, carbon can be stronger, lighter, and stiffer all at the same time, but a well built aluminum frame (like the Commencal) can take a serious beating, not be as concerning if crashed.

    Geometry matters A LOT more than frame material, so buy the bike that suits you. All reviews I've read of the Commencal say its blindingly fast, so I don't think that's a concern.

  3. #3
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    Agreed ^^^^

    I personally don't notice a ton of difference between the frame materials on a full suspension bike.
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  4. #4
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    Nothing wrong to an aluminum frame. Commencal, Guerrilla Gravity, Banshee, Knolly, Canfield... All these brands have aluminum frames (or at least mostly) and you rarely hear people saying they are terrible bikes (quite the opposite)

    Frames are much more than just the material, and you shouldn't limit your choice just because of that. I rode last year a Guerrilla Gravity Megatrail, and I'm on an Evil Calling this year. They are different bikes, by how they feel, and maybe the carbon has an influence, but it's mostly the suspension and geometry. TBH, I'm even considering selling the Calling to get a Megatrail back, just because I loved this bike !

    So no, I agree with the two posts above, aluminum is not a step backward.
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  5. #5
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    Lots of guys go carbon wheels to shave a little weight for AL frame. I just got a Canfield Brother's Riot and even put a fat piggy coil on it and I grin from ear to ear as I fly down the trail! Im also too heavy to care about a pound or two,...... or three or four with coil...🤣 Once you train on it enough you probably won't notice the difference.

  6. #6
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    I went from an Ibis Mojo HD to a Canfield Balance. For me, geometry and suspension performance were far, far more important to me than frame material or marginal weight. I compared on on paper about two dozen bikes, and most of the frames that ended up on my short list were only available in one material or the other. For the few frames offered in two versions, carbon vs aluminum was almost an afterthought.

    I didn't consider frame material vs price directly, but I did consider that most aluminum frames left more room for parts in the overall budget. In most cases I could buy an aluminum frame with a PUSH 11.6, or a carbon frame with a Fox Float Whatever-Was-Stock. In that sense, carbon vs aluminum became a choice of suspension performance vs weight, and for an AM/enduo race bike my choice was clearly for better suspension.

    A buddy of mine recently went the other direction, from a Trek Slash (aluminum) to an Evil Wreckoning. He was in the same boat, looking for suspension design and geometry first. It just happens that Evil's frames are carbon.

    I think differences in ride quality are really overblown, especially for long-travel FS bikes. I don't believe anyone who thinks they can feel a difference in vibration or impact transfer when you have 2.5" of tires and 6" of travel between the ground and the frame. And both materials can make stiff or noodly bikes - it's a choice during the design stage.

    So yeah, pick the bike based on fit, geometry, and suspension. Don't sweat the rest.

  7. #7
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    Going to aluminum from carbon, for enduro races and short training rides?

    I went from a Knolly Chilcotin to a Pivot Mach 6 and ordered a Guerrilla Gravity Megatrail SS yesterday. I loved my Knolly Chili, my main reason for selling it was getting off a 26" platform. I was given a great deal by my LBS and decided to try the Mach 6. My first full carbon bike ever. Beside feeling a little cramped due to its geometry I was never overly impressed with it, always in the hunt for that next upgrade. Something that was not on my mind with the Knolly. After lots and lots of research I have decided to go back to an alloy bike, the Megatrail SS seems to fit perfectly in the quiver killer slot I am trying to fill. I have been that guy that follows "industry standards" and reads all the articles on every new bike technology. To be honest I am over it all and just want a bike that if fun to ride! Suspension is all about the platform it is all about how it is set up, frame material is kind of a joke as well, the Megatrail SS frame isn't that much heavier than some All Mountain Carbon bikes when you look at the specs. If you really want to spend lots of money on carbon spend it on rotational weight, i.e. wheels. I found the people who are benefiting from full carbon stealth machines are your competitive XC racers who are on super light hardtails smashing out climbs faster than I can go down them...lol. IMHO stop reading all the hyped up articles and find a bike that fits you correctly and tune it to your style. Anyways, super stoked about my Megatrail SS! Long story short not even batting an eye about switching from carbon to Alum.


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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by legitposter View Post
    I have a few carbon enduro bikes that don't have the perfect geometry that suits me. After learning a lot about bike geo from my bikes and some demo bikes, I'm pretty convinced the Commencal meta v4.2 can be my high-intensity 12 mile training bike and my enduro race bike.

    It's aluminum though and all I've ever owned is carbon bikes, since I started biking when carbon was already widely available for frames.

    Is it a step backwards to go to aluminum? Anyone done it?
    I just got an AL bike and my last bike was a carbon bike. I don't notice any issues with the AL frame vs. carbon beyond that it's a little heavier. My next bike could be AL or carbon just depends what interests me. The frame material is not going to be the main factor that I use to decide.
    Safe riding,

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  9. #9
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    I wish more manufacturers would sell Alu framesets (even some that do overseas won't sell Alu framesets in Aus for some reason).

    If there is one place that you should LAST consider saving weight, it's the frame. Things that spin and bits at the very front and rear of the bike have a much more noticeable effect - so the money saved on frame weight can be put into saving weight (or better performing parts) elsewhere.

    I cannot speak for others, however I'm quite light weight and I notice no flex in an Alu frame.

    It's also nice to worry a whole lot less about frame damage. I spot some paint chips, shuttle marks, cable rub that I didn't first notice and just think to myself "oh well, a similar 2nd hand frame is a few hundred dollars".

  10. #10
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    I've never owned a carbon frame. It blows my mind that some of you know nothing else. Go for the geo.
    T275a

  11. #11
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    ^^Ditto. I can't even believe this is a discussion. Weight savings is very, very highly overrated and overblown to the point that mountain bikers don't even think rationally about it.

    I mean, what is the difference in weight between a comparable carbon frame and an aluminum version? 1, 2 pounds at most? My weight fluctuates +/- 3 pounds day-to-day. The difference on a half hour climb is a mere 2-3 seconds, if it's measurable at all. As others have said, the frame is the LAST place to worry about when it comes to weight.

    So much snake oil being pushed these days. But that's nothing new, I suppose. I went in to buy a new handlebar the other day and mistakenly grabbed a 35 mm bar (my stem is 31.8mm). I retired from working in a shop a long time ago, and am admittedly not that interested in keeping up with all the new trends and standards. I asked the shop owner why they bumped it up to 35mm. His response was that with everything else getting stiffened, people were starting to feel flex in 31.8mm stems/bars. I didn't say anything but was thinking to myself that it was the biggest line of bullsh!! I've heard in a long time. I used to do legitimate 20' drops on the 31.8 standard and never noticed a bit of flex, haha.

    /Rant.
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  12. #12
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    I am selling a Guerrilla Gravity Megatrail frame. It is amazing for enduro

    2016 Guerrilla Gravity Megatrail with extras (1050!) - Buy and Sell Mountain Bikes and Accessories

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by cookieMonster View Post
    ^^Ditto. I can't even believe this is a discussion. Weight savings is very, very highly overrated and overblown to the point that mountain bikers don't even think rationally about it.

    I mean, what is the difference in weight between a comparable carbon frame and an aluminum version? 1, 2 pounds at most? My weight fluctuates +/- 3 pounds day-to-day. The difference on a half hour climb is a mere 2-3 seconds, if it's measurable at all. As others have said, the frame is the LAST place to worry about when it comes to weight.

    So much snake oil being pushed these days. But that's nothing new, I suppose. I went in to buy a new handlebar the other day and mistakenly grabbed a 35 mm bar (my stem is 31.8mm). I retired from working in a shop a long time ago, and am admittedly not that interested in keeping up with all the new trends and standards. I asked the shop owner why they bumped it up to 35mm. His response was that with everything else getting stiffened, people were starting to feel flex in 31.8mm stems/bars. I didn't say anything but was thinking to myself that it was the biggest line of bullsh!! I've heard in a long time. I used to do legitimate 20' drops on the 31.8 standard and never noticed a bit of flex, haha.

    /Rant.
    3 week old thread, but there's more to it than just weight IMO. The carbon structure frees them up to make shapes and load-bearing members in ways that are just not possible with aluminum, or at any reasonable weight. I've been on very stiff aluminum frames, but they had to be reinforced all over the place to achieve the lateral rigidity. Fast forward to racing a few nights ago where I was throwing my carbon 29er FS bike into some rough turns and was able to hold a line and keep going, way more out on the edge than the guys I was racing against (got 9th in expert). Had a few mechanical issues unrelated, but the carbon frame transmits power very effectively and maintains impressive lateral rigidity, two things that are important for racing. Then you get a weight advantage as well. Of course, one can go too-far in any direction, too overbuilt, too light, with any material.

    So yeah, saving a pound or two on the frame doesn't mean a whole lot. Wheels is a far more important place to save some weight, but there's more going on than just a lighter frame with carbon IME, better optimized shapes for strength/stiffness and design flexibility.

    And yeah, the 35mm standard for stems/bars is pretty dumb. Marginal improvements and carbon bars are about as stiff as you can get.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    3 week old thread, but there's more to it than just weight IMO. The carbon structure frees them up to make shapes and load-bearing members in ways that are just not possible with aluminum, or at any reasonable weight. I've been on very stiff aluminum frames, but they had to be reinforced all over the place to achieve the lateral rigidity.
    Absolutely, without a doubt, carbon frees the designer to make shapes/frames that aren't possible with aluminum, even hydroformed stuff. ...But, what reason do we have to believe that carbon is being used for performance first? From what i've seen carbon gives the designer more freedom to make an aesthetically beautiful frame that carries the brand's design language. Frames have to be evaluated on their own merits and carbon/aluminum is no guarantee; there's rockstars and turds in both camps.

    I don't really have a strong opinion here, but given that carbon is inevitably 50% more expensive i'll always see what's available in metal before exploring the carbon options.
    "Things that are complex are not useful, Things that are useful are simple."
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Fast forward to racing a few nights ago where I was throwing my carbon 29er FS bike into some rough turns and was able to hold a line and keep going, way more out on the edge than the guys I was racing against (got 9th in expert).
    I would bet your experience and ability dictated the outcome way more so than the frame material did.

  16. #16
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    It's a little off-topic, but I'll step up to defend 35mm bars. Really wide bars have become more popular across the whole sport, even in more weight-conscious disciplines. To have the same flex at the grips (deflection distance from a given force), longer bars need to be stiffer n the midsection (less deflection, not necessarily stronger) i, which would otherwise mean more weight. Larger diameter tubes can be stiffer (larger second moment of inertia) despite having thinner walls and weighing less. I very much doubt the 35mm clamp diameter would have come along if handlebar width had stopped at 750mm, but I think it makes a lot of sense with bars pushing 800-820mm.

    Anyway, I think there's a "weight doesn't matter" phenomenon that can happen with do-it-all AM/enduro bikes. You convince yourself that frame weight doesn't matter, and that a pound and a half in the frame is meaningless. And then you pick a heavier shock, perhaps a coil, and tell yourself that another pound doesn't matter compared to the performance advantage. Better make sure the fork's stiff enough, too. You pick heavier rims, because the durability matters. Tires of course have to match usage, so you're looking at 900g-1100g 1.5ply casings. And so on.

    You end up with an incredibly capable ripping bike, but it's less of a do-it-all trail bike. And one day you hop on your buddy's "light trail" bike and realize it's 8lb lighter and feels completely different. All those choices favoring durability and capability make sense for an enduro/big mountain bike, but make it less of a generalist do-it-all bike.

    So I think the "frame weight doesn't matter" mindset can have knock-on effects, and it's important to keep a build weight-conscious regardless of the frame material.

    I guess that means at the end of the day there's a slot in the stable for a super light plastic fantastic 110mm trail bike, if the budget ever permits.

  17. #17
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    I just broke a yeti sb95c rear triangle and decided NOT to spend nearly $600 on a replacement.

    I bought a Canfield Riot (aluminum) frame and moved my parts over.

    Itís 2.5# heavier than the yeti, but Iím blown away by the ride. It rides ďlightĒ and seems actually better at a lot of things. Itís super playful and nimble, regardless of being made of the ďwrongĒ material.

    Before the sb95c, I had an sb66 aluminum. Biggest diff between yetis was the wheel size. And maybe 1.5#.

    Iím also about 180# before clothes and gear, so 2# isnít much.


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  18. #18
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    Wow, this thread is back from the dead! I'll play devil's advocate here... I've had plenty of seat time on both with my last three bikes being Banshee Spitfire, SC Bronson CC, and now Canfield Balance. All three are incredibly fun bikes. The weight diff betw/ the Spitty and the carbon Bronson was about 2 lbs and the diff on the trail was much more attributable to the 27.5 wheels of the Bronson than the frame material. So frame material isn't that critical IF the weights are in the same realm. Now my medium Balance frame with the stock CCDBA air weighs 9 pounds so the lightest build you are gonna get, WITH carbon rims, is gonna be around 31 pounds. That compared to my Bronson is nearly 4 pounds heavier and it is very noticeable in my jump heights and effort required for all day epics. Shorter rides it's all good.

    Have FUN!

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    Last edited by Gman086; 01-30-2018 at 01:35 PM.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gman086 View Post
    Wow, this thread is back from the dead! I'll play devil's advocate here... I've had plenty of seat time on both with my last three bikes being Banshee Spitfire, SC Bronson CC, and now Canfield Balance. All three are incredibly fun bikes. The weight diff betw/ the Spitty and the carbon Bronson was about 2 lbs and the diff on the trail was much more attributable to the 27.5 wheels of the Bronson than the frame material. So frame material isn't that critical IF the weights are in the same realm. Now my medium Balance frame with the stock CCDBA air weighs 9 pounds so the lightest build you are gonna get, WITH carbon rims, is gonna be around 31 pounds. That compared to my Bronson is nearly 4 pounds heavier and it is very noticeable in my jump heights and effort required for all day epics. Shorter rides it's all good.

    Have FUN!

    G MAN
    All day epics are harder, but man is that Balance a work of geometry art that I see more and more bike companies starting to copy. Same went for the Nimble 9/Yelli, Canfield made the geo work but got beat to market by Evil with a full suspension with almost a perfect match to canfields geo. Made evil all over again from a failing company to a powerhouse. The newer Balance is the same way, but the HD 4 and a few others are pretty much a carbon copy geo wise other than chainstays. I have learned, look and the geo numbers of a new Canfield bike and you will see the future of the big players. Just wish they had a bigger budget so they quit getting beat to market with Carbon and advertising dollars. So when the 29er DH bike comes out from Canfield, you know what all the geo will look like in 2 years on all the others.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by hitechredneck View Post
    All day epics are harder, but man is that Balance a work of geometry art that I see more and more bike companies starting to copy. Same went for the Nimble 9/Yelli, Canfield made the geo work but got beat to market by Evil with a full suspension with almost a perfect match to canfields geo. Made evil all over again from a failing company to a powerhouse. The newer Balance is the same way, but the HD 4 and a few others are pretty much a carbon copy geo wise other than chainstays. I have learned, look and the geo numbers of a new Canfield bike and you will see the future of the big players. Just wish they had a bigger budget so they quit getting beat to market with Carbon and advertising dollars. So when the 29er DH bike comes out from Canfield, you know what all the geo will look like in 2 years on all the others.
    I was about to get the Ibis when I saw ShiverMeTimbers post his new Balance in the DH forum. "Nice looking bike but what's the geometry?" I remember thinking. I sat there stunned in front of my computer screen when I saw that the Balance had the exact and I mean EXACT numbers that I was looking for right down to the chainstays. I joked with Chris about it when I ordered the bike. So you are preaching to the choir!

    As far as first to market... I would argue that would be Banshee over Evil for the whole low and slack movement but none of them have such short chainstays and I think that's a credit to the C Bros suspension design. In fact I think that's why Santa Cruz is kinda handcuffed with the reversing pivot design of VPP - you reach a point where you just can't make them any shorter but Canfield's parallel link design allows for that even deep into the travel. The only issue I have with them is that they over-build their bikes to avoid warranty issues and with my asthma and lung issues... along with creeping age, I need a lighter bike for general trail use.

    Have FUN!

    G MAN
    "There's two shuttles, one to the top and one to the hospital" I LOVE this place!!!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by cookieMonster View Post
    ^^Ditto. I can't even believe this is a discussion. Weight savings is very, very highly overrated and overblown to the point that mountain bikers don't even think rationally about it.

    I mean, what is the difference in weight between a comparable carbon frame and an aluminum version? 1, 2 pounds at most? My weight fluctuates +/- 3 pounds day-to-day. The difference on a half hour climb is a mere 2-3 seconds, if it's measurable at all. As others have said, the frame is the LAST place to worry about when it comes to weight.

    So much snake oil being pushed these days. But that's nothing new, I suppose. I went in to buy a new handlebar the other day and mistakenly grabbed a 35 mm bar (my stem is 31.8mm). I retired from working in a shop a long time ago, and am admittedly not that interested in keeping up with all the new trends and standards. I asked the shop owner why they bumped it up to 35mm. His response was that with everything else getting stiffened, people were starting to feel flex in 31.8mm stems/bars. I didn't say anything but was thinking to myself that it was the biggest line of bullsh!! I've heard in a long time. I used to do legitimate 20' drops on the 31.8 standard and never noticed a bit of flex, haha.

    /Rant.
    I have ridden some of the heaviest bikes built as I used them to deliver 150 papers seven days a week for 8 years. Now I am on much lighter machines that just rock. For me, light is fun, fast and engaging while heavy is slow, boring and hot. Rode sew ups for almost two decades and they felt wonderful but the prices got ridiculous. Light bikes are more fun to ride imho. So for me, weight is an issue and each component adds up quick. I do not own carbon at the moment but rather titanium or aluminum with light components. It works for me.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emdexpress View Post
    I have ridden some of the heaviest bikes built as I used them to deliver 150 papers seven days a week for 8 years. Now I am on much lighter machines that just rock. For me, light is fun, fast and engaging while heavy is slow, boring and hot. Rode sew ups for almost two decades and they felt wonderful but the prices got ridiculous. Light bikes are more fun to ride imho. So for me, weight is an issue and each component adds up quick. I do not own carbon at the moment but rather titanium or aluminum with light components. It works for me.
    I don't know your ride style, but weight till you start hucking/flying your bike. 1st thing I noticed was acceleration out of corners and up any climbs having no run-in, then as you start to send the bike into air more, those missing lbs. make big diff.
    oops I wasn't clipped in

  23. #23
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    Id rather have carbon wheels and carbon cranks than a carbon frame. Those two components to me are the most important.

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    For all mountain riding, if I can already make it up any of the climbs on an aluminum rig with alloy wheels then I'd stick with aluminum. I convinced myself I needed to have a trail bike that was twice the price so it could have the carbon bells and whistles and while it is much faster and still crazy fun I am questioning my decision as I could have stuck with the alloy and used the extra cash to buy a whole other alloy bike or anything else really. All mountain riding where I am doesn't need a bike that is carbon light unless you are planning on entering races with it.

    Now that I am looking to race I am selling the carbon trail/all mountain bike for a carbon xc bike. To me racing and being able to climb are the only things that warrant the steep price of carbon at the moment.

    Also for enduro racing I would be happy and fine with an aluminum frame as long as the frame has an excellent warranty.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by drdocta View Post
    For all mountain riding, if I can already make it up any of the climbs on an aluminum rig with alloy wheels then I'd stick with aluminum. I convinced myself I needed to have a trail bike that was twice the price so it could have the carbon bells and whistles and while it is much faster and still crazy fun I am questioning my decision as I could have stuck with the alloy and used the extra cash to buy a whole other alloy bike or anything else really. All mountain riding where I am doesn't need a bike that is carbon light unless you are planning on entering races with it.

    Now that I am looking to race I am selling the carbon trail/all mountain bike for a carbon xc bike. To me racing and being able to climb are the only things that warrant the steep price of carbon at the moment.

    Also for enduro racing I would be happy and fine with an aluminum frame as long as the frame has an excellent warranty.
    I went from a Yeti Sb95c (carbon wonder trail bike) to a Canfield Riot (aluminum) when I broke the yeti. The Canfield is 2.5# heavier (all due to the frame) and I feel no negatives going uphill AND huge positives everywhere else. Also, I weigh 180+ before clothes and gear, so 2-3# is a negligible % increase in overall static weight.

    That, and the Canfield isnít broken, so....

    The Canfield is an amazing pedaller and all-arounder thatís at least as good as the yeti going uphill. Itís got a very steep seat tube vs the yeti, which makes the extra weight a non-issue due to improved body position.

    Also, I have carbon wheels, so thereís a lot of weight saved there.

    If I wanted and even more sprightly ride, Iíd ditch the burly maxxis 2.5 tires for something lighter.

    So, in summary, IMHO, focus on:
    -geometry/fit
    -parts selection
    -suspension performance vs YOUR riding style

    And lastly, frame material.

    I know plenty of people with aluminum bikes that smoke people on carbon.


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  26. #26
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    Weight is not overblown in importance to those that desire it. A light bike accelerates fast an is responsive. Means more fun and more miles ridden. I understand if you have FS and big tires you may already be beyond the sports car acceleration possibilities. Beyond that, any additional weight would seem way less important than to a XC rider. Road and XC Folks need light to do their thing. Trail riders have a different agenda, mostly. Bikes are tools, pick up the right one.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emdexpress View Post
    Road and XC Folks need light to do their thing. Trail riders have a different agenda, mostly.
    We are in the "All Mtn" sub-forum on a mountain bike and electric moped site and the thread title is talking about enduro racing.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
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