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  1. #1
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    Small Travel AM Rig

    Cliff notes

    I've been riding a hardtail (100mm Kona Cinder Cone - 68.5 HTA) since 2009 and I'm looking to upgrade to a squishy bike this spring. Can the 27.5+ Santa Cruz Tallboy (130/110 68 HTA) handle the gnar?

    Long version

    I live in the Midwest and ride what I would consider textbook XC trails. Hardpack, rooted, and relatively flat/fast. I've been riding my hardtail for a good while and it's time to upgrade.

    I rented a plus tire Trek EX for a trip to Bentonville, AR last year and really enjoyed it. We put in a 36 mile day covering XC trails, paved greenways, and light bike park style stuff out at Coler Bike Preserve. It seemed to handle everything really well. Plus 1 for plus tires.

    I also spent a weekend in Tucson last fall bike packing the Lemmon Drop. I rented a 170mm Enduro (standard 650b) and caught a shuttle to the summit. I descended over the course of two days, camping along the way. The bike came to life at speed, but it's way too much bike for what I ride locally.

    The group I ride with has everything from a guy on a carbon hardtail to a guy on a 150mm 6Fatty Stumpy. The rest is a handful of 110-130 travel Treks and Giants. We have a handful of destination trips planned this year, including a return trip to Bentonville, a weekend trip to CO, and the Wausau 24hr endurance race.

    Our local shop stocks SC and Rocky Mountain (among others, but these are what I'm most interested in). Coming from a 26" wheel bike, I'm undecided whether I want a 650b, 650+, or 29er. Whatever I choose needs to able to handle the chunk of AZ as well as the flat speedy singletrack of the Midwest.

    The SC 5010, Tallboy, and RM's Instinct/Pipeline are all on my list. I like the idea of having a bike that can swap from 650+ to 29, as that would add some versatility to the package. Rock the 29er wheelset for the local stuff, then swap on the 650+ wheelset when I want to get rowdy.

    As far as that goes, I'm worried that the Instinct or Pipeline may be too much bike to pedal around on a weekly basis. I think I'd lean towards a smaller bike that I would enjoy locally so long as it can handle the bigger stuff out west.

    What is the worse scenario, entering an XC race with a 140mm Instinct, or shredding a 110mm 650+ Tallboy down La Milagrosa?

    Edit: I should add that I'm a small guy. 5'7" and 135lbs.
    Last edited by Bray D; 02-21-2018 at 03:50 PM.

  2. #2
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    Evil Calling

    Skills with Phil has a bunch of vids on some gnarly terrain, and bike park including Whistler.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJ-Gp8YfgoY&t=160s
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  3. #3
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    Guerrilla Gravity's Trail Pistol is worth a look. Descends like a pent-up prom date and climbs like a scalded monkey.
    =sParty
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mt.Biker E View Post
    Evil Calling

    Skills with Phil has a bunch of vids on some gnarly terrain, and bike park including Whistler.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJ-Gp8YfgoY&t=160s
    I'm looking to spend a decent chunk of money, but Evil's lineup is a bit rich for my blood.

    I'm quite familiar with the YouTube crew as well. Skills with Phil. Seth's Bike Hacks. The Singletrack Sampler. BKXC. MTB yumyum. etc. I've watched and read so many reviews that I could probably recite a couple of them word for word.

    MTB yum yum seems to really dig the 29er version of the Tallboy, but I also know he's a pretty loyal 29er guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9GB3LNbf5o

    He ranks the Instinct pretty high also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OK6QMSpHuPs

    The Instinct is far more slack, more travel, etc. I think the Tallboy would be faster in the XC stuff, but the Instinct would likely be more comfortable on the chunky descents.

    Rocky still makes bikes with press in BB's which is a bummer, though their component spec in my price range isn't too shabby. I'm waiting for something other than their BC edition to hit the Linkage Design blog to see how the AS numbers look too. History shows that RM bikes are rather inefficient in the climbing department.

    I'm sure the Tallboy is a killer XC rig, I'm just curious how it handles big terrain. I ride my current hardtail down the local downhill course so I'm familiar with a lively bike, I just want to make sure I don't end up with something that's underspec'd for a potential destination trip. I don't foresee any dual crown style runs in my future, but I like to get rowdy at times.

    I've decided that I'll only buy a bike that I can test ride, hence the strong consideration given to the RM and SC lineup.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparticus View Post
    Guerrilla Gravity's Trail Pistol is worth a look. Descends like a pent-up prom date and climbs like a scalded monkey.
    =sParty
    I've given serious consideration to GG's offering, but I really don't like how their frames look. I'm typically a function over form guy, but I can't get over it. The arched top tube turns me off big time.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bray D View Post
    I'm sure the Tallboy is a killer XC rig, I'm just curious how it handles big terrain. I ride my current hardtail down the local downhill course so I'm familiar with a lively bike, I just want to make sure I don't end up with something that's underspec'd for a potential destination trip. .
    I 'get' where you're coming from and can tell you about the Tallboy in our ride group. None of your concern is necessary. A few years ago I went from 100mm dual sus XC bike to a 140mm Trail. I was looking for less frame flex and a better, more perdictable ride over the knar. My 27.5 bike rails, but that 29r keeps up w/ no effort. In fact when I'm chasing the two SC 29rs (the TB and a HT) I'm pushing my pedals very hard to keep up.
    oops I wasn't clipped in

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bray D View Post

    MTB yum yum seems to really dig the 29er version of the Tallboy, but I also know he's a pretty loyal 29er guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9GB3LNbf5o
    FYI, he recently did a review on the 2018 Hightower and compared it to his 2017 HT.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim c View Post
    I 'get' where you're coming from and can tell you about the Tallboy in our ride group. None of your concern is necessary. A few years ago I went from 100mm dual sus XC bike to a 140mm Trail. I was looking for less frame flex and a better, more perdictable ride over the knar. My 27.5 bike rails, but that 29r keeps up w/ no effort. In fact when I'm chasing the two SC 29rs (the TB and a HT) I'm pushing my pedals very hard to keep up.
    Thanks for sharing your experience. Everything that I've read since making this thread is pointing towards being right up my alley. Quick and predictable in the woods, but still able to hold it's own when the trail encourages use of the dropper post.

    Bike Radar did a review on it and made it sound less than ideal in 29er mode. Definitely fast, but not as stable when pointed downhill.

    During the second half of their review, they put the plus tires on it and claim that it made a huge difference. Near bar dragging stability in the turns. Compliance of the plus tires soaked up the trail noise and let the 110mm of travel handle the bigger hits.

    I need to hit up my LBS and take one for a spin.

    How are you liking your 140mm trail bike? Any regrets going that big after having done so? What's your average ride look like (mileage, elevation, etc)?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bray D View Post
    What is the worse scenario, entering an XC race with a 140mm Instinct, or shredding a 110mm 650+ Tallboy down La Milagrosa?

    Edit: I should add that I'm a small guy. 5'7" and 135lbs.
    Is your strength more in climbing or descending? If you've got good legs and lungs but hold back on the descents then the bigger bike will give you more confidence to carry speed going down. If you're a confident descender and bike handler you'll be able to ride that shorter travel bike in most places if you've careful picking your lines and aren't afraid to push it to the limit.

    Longer travel bikes are pedalling better than ever before, and shorter travel bikes can be really good descending with the right set up and geometry. Best thing would be to try demo as many different options as possible on your local trail.

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    Quote Originally Posted by David R View Post
    Is your strength more in climbing or descending? If you've got good legs and lungs but hold back on the descents then the bigger bike will give you more confidence to carry speed going down. If you're a confident descender and bike handler you'll be able to ride that shorter travel bike in most places if you've careful picking your lines and aren't afraid to push it to the limit.
    That's a good take on the situation. I like to think I'm in decent shape and have pretty good bike handling skills to boot. I'm not going to win any races and you won't find me in the Red Bull Rampage, but I can keep up with the race guys in my group and hang with the trail bikes in the short and rooty local downhills.

    Keep in mind a typical trail day for us is around 15-20 miles and 1000' of climbing. It's flat out here. Absolutely no concerns with the Tallboy on the local trails - it would likely be the bike of choice actually.

    Quote Originally Posted by David R
    Longer travel bikes are pedalling better than ever before, and shorter travel bikes can be really good descending with the right set up and geometry. Best thing would be to try demo as many different options as possible on your local trail.
    Absolutely. The anti squat numbers on the longer travel bikes is impressive. I'm still curious about the remainder of the 2018 Rocky lineup though. The Linkage blog has only analysed the BC edition Instinct so far.

    I'm getting the feeling that the Tallboy can hang if I'm willing to push it. I'm cool with that. I think it would be a blast on the local trails, and it sounds like it's rideable in the bigger stuff.

    I'll ride a few bikes and see what feels best. If the Tallboy fits well, it may very well become my new steed.

    To further convince myself that I can ride a short travel bike in the gnar, here's a video of Jeff Lenosky murdering La Milagrosa on an Anthem.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iroej7J6-k

  11. #11
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    Have you looked at offerings from pivot and ibis? The DW-link (used by both brands) has a good pedaling platform ( good for cross country) but is plenty plush for rough stuff too. Both brands are pretty pricy though.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bray D View Post
    I'm getting the feeling that the Tallboy can hang if I'm willing to push it. I'm cool with that. I think it would be a blast on the local trails, and it sounds like it's rideable in the bigger stuff.
    It does sound like you're leaning towards the Tallboy, for good reasons too. Being lighter I think you'll be able to push the shorter travel more than say a 220lb guy would. Things like tyre choice and fork travel can always be change if you want a little more dh capability out of it.

  13. #13
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    "I need to hit up my LBS and take one for a spin."
    Do that. You're just talking yourself in circles here. Way too much "research", speculation and worrying over what other people do or think for someone who can just go ride one and get a feel for it. A TB3 was at the top of my list, and what I thought I'd probably buy, right up until the day I rode one. Didn't care for it at all, though I liked the HT and 5010 in the same size. You might love or hate it, but you won't find out on the internet.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Random Dude View Post
    Have you looked at offerings from pivot and ibis? The DW-link (used by both brands) has a good pedaling platform ( good for cross country) but is plenty plush for rough stuff too. Both brands are pretty pricy though.
    Neither are available locally. I want to ride the bike I end up buying.

    Quote Originally Posted by OwenM View Post
    "I need to hit up my LBS and take one for a spin."
    Do that. You're just talking yourself in circles here. Way too much "research", speculation and worrying over what other people do or think for someone who can just go ride one and get a feel for it. A TB3 was at the top of my list, and what I thought I'd probably buy, right up until the day I rode one. Didn't care for it at all, though I liked the HT and 5010 in the same size. You might love or hate it, but you won't find out on the internet.
    Very true, but I think there's some merit to talking with people who have first hand experience with a particular bike. Riding one locally will complete the picture in regards to fit and performance on local trails, but even with that, it won't speak to how it performs in terrain that I have to travel to ride.

    Outerbike would be the ultimate demo experience. I've considered that as well, but the expense of traveling to and paying for the event doesn't add up (to me).

    This thread is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my paper research. It's borderline embarrassing how much I've read and documented over the past couple months. It's all part of the obsession though. I may throw all of this out the window after I kick a leg over a couple bikes, but researching, learning, and being an educated consumer is all part of the fun.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bray D View Post
    Thanks for sharing your experience.
    How are you liking your 140mm trail bike? Any regrets going that big after having done so? What's your average ride look like (mileage, elevation, etc)?
    12-25 miles and all the climbing is short steep stuff between 10 to 75ft. I'd guess less than 300ft n a day.
    Bray D you mention anti-squat in one of the posts. I'm not sure what AS number the Kona Process 134 is, but I deff notice it don't pedal like my '05 Blur did. After the 1st year riding the Kona I demoed a couple 120mm bikes that pedaled better, but still took the hits w/o drama, so I was thinking I'd over-biked. Then after a couple trips up north to real mountains (I live/ride in So. Florida) I didn't mind the All Mountain tendencies of the Process 134. Now after 3yrs on it I rarely wish for a lighter bike, even after demoing a few. Here I have to add something you didn't ask about, but I deff prefer the smaller 27.5 wheel. Just 2wks ago I demo a C-dale Scalpel SE 120mm 29r. Just like the Scott and Spec 9ers I've riden before, I was left feeling like they don't turn/change line like my Kona does. Ya the 9r wheel is faster and they solve some trail issues, but...
    oops I wasn't clipped in

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim c View Post
    12-25 miles and all the climbing is short steep stuff between 10 to 75ft. I'd guess less than 300ft n a day.
    Bray D you mention anti-squat in one of the posts. I'm not sure what AS number the Kona Process 134 is, but I deff notice it don't pedal like my '05 Blur did. After the 1st year riding the Kona I demoed a couple 120mm bikes that pedaled better, but still took the hits w/o drama, so I was thinking I'd over-biked. Then after a couple trips up north to real mountains (I live/ride in So. Florida) I didn't mind the All Mountain tendencies of the Process 134. Now after 3yrs on it I rarely wish for a lighter bike, even after demoing a few. Here I have to add something you didn't ask about, but I deff prefer the smaller 27.5 wheel. Just 2wks ago I demo a C-dale Scalpel SE 120mm 29r. Just like the Scott and Spec 9ers I've riden before, I was left feeling like they don't turn/change line like my Kona does. Ya the 9r wheel is faster and they solve some trail issues, but...
    You make good points. For what it's worth, the older Processes had super low AS numbers (high 60's). The newer linkage is much better, but I think they only offer it with the 153's. That's a big bike for around here.

    I'm still unsure if I want a 29er myself, but the test rides will hash that out. I've spent a decent amount of time on a plus bike so I know that's all good, but I haven't been on a true 29er yet.

    If I find that the plus tire/29er isn't jiving with me, I'll likely lean towards the 5010. It's more attractive in regards to travel and geo anyways, I just don't like that you're locked into a 650b tire/wheel. Having the opportunity to swap between 29 and 650+ is a pretty killer selling point for the Tallboy (to me).

  17. #17
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    My old Transition Bandit was an awesome all-rounder!

    So, I'm guessing a Smuggler would fit a treat.

    Evil Following for mind, but you did say coin is limited.

    A Kona Process 134/111...??

    '14 KP 134 = most playful bike I've ever owned... although they have grown LLS over the last 3 year's.

    'We'll all make it to the top... Some of us, might not make it to the bottom'
    "Mountain biking: the under-rated and drug-free antidepressant"

  18. #18
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    I'm in love with Transition's lineup, but the closest dealer with bikes on the floor is 400 miles away. I contacted them directly to see if they would send a couple demo bikes to my LBS, but they wouldn't go for it. My LBS is a dealer, they just don't stock inventory on Transitions.

    Too much risk without being able to ride one.

    My LBS is indeed a Kona dealer with bikes on the floor though. They have a KP 153 in there right now that I can ride if I want. The numbers look good on it, but I think it's just too much bike. I don't want to lose my connection with the trail too much.

    As far as price goes, I'm hoping to get something for $3500 complete. That puts me in the range of the R spec aluminum Tallboy or 5010. Alloy 50 builds for the Rocky offering.

  19. #19
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    For what you're after, the Tallboy will work fine. I had the TB1, TBLT and TB2 before leaving the 29er scene for a bit. Last year, I picked up an Intense Primer and I'd say it gives up a touch on the XC speed trails but blows away the TB in descending and comfort for longer endurance rides....at least that's been my experience. The Primer has two rear shock positions...one at 130mm and the other at 115mm but I always leave mine at 130.

    If you go to the Intense board, you'll see that people are immensely happy with their bikes as it's so versatile. The XC type guys run it with a 130 fork up front but most go with a 140. Now people are putting on 150's and a longer travel fork to turn it into a 150/140 bike for gnarlier trails. I have mine at 140/130 and just by changing the tires over to some beefy options (I use the E13 TRS tires), I ride trails just fine that 95% of people are riding on 6" travel bikes. It's by far the most versatile bike I own and if I could only have ONE bike right now, it would be the Primer.

    Since they went Consumer Direct, their prices are untouchable by Santa Cruz as well. You can get a fully decked out 2017 leftover that was $7000 for $3999 or the 1018 Expert model (a carbon frame) for $3499.

    I don't know anything about the Rocky Mtn line-up and I know you don't have an Ibis dealer nearby but the Ripley LS would be another great option.
    2018 Intense Tracer
    2017 Intense Primer
    2016 Santa Cruz 5010

  20. #20
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    SC Hightower would probably be great for the local riding, as well as most riding anyplace else too. I would recommend looking at other bikes too though, see what your local shop carries and consider those too. I had a 2013 Trek Fuel (26er, no less) and after that was stolen I replaced with a 2016 Stumpjumper 650b. Both are fantastic trail bikes, which are great from everything from mellow XC trails to intermediate bike park trails. They do get somewhat overwhelmed on advanced, technical trails with lots of high speed rocks/roots and whatnot. Having a set of heavy-duty tires and shock spacers on hand you can swap into when you ride more difficult terrain is a good idea. During the summer when I'm getting after it in the mountains, I put on heavy Maxxis tires and go with more shock spacers and more sag, which goes a long way to improving the handling on chunk. I went with bikes I could get at my local shop due to the support I can get from them and the availability of parts through them. Since it sounds like you like to travel, it's a good idea to carry a few spares such as a derailleur hangar and one or two linkage bolts in your pack or car, especially if you go with a boutique brand (SC, Evil, Transition, Intense... etc. all great bikes I'm sure) . It can be pretty hard to find parts when on the road.

  21. #21
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    The most capable and fun mid travel bike that pedals great and can handle steep and Gnarly riding while also being playful in the Devinci Troy. 150mm fork and 140mm shock make the bike so balanced and capable.
    Yeti SB100
    Yeti SB5.5
    Trans Sentinel
    Ibis Ripmo
    Yeti SB4.5
    Orbea Rallon
    Devinci Spartan
    Devinci Troy
    Trek Emonda SL7

  22. #22
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    RM Thunderbolt BC
    Devinci Django
    Both are absolute blast and adjustable geo.

  23. #23
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    I would absolutely love to try all these this summer.
    oops I wasn't clipped in

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by INF216 View Post
    RM Thunderbolt BC
    Devinci Django
    Both are absolute blast and adjustable geo.
    The Thunderbolt is on my list as well, however they don't offer a BC edition this year. It's a 130/120 standard 27.5 tire XC trail bike.

    Funds are freeing up so I can formally start bike shopping. I plan to spend this coming Saturday morning at my LBS getting some time in the saddle.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bray D View Post
    What is the worse scenario, entering an XC race with a 140mm Instinct, or shredding a 110mm 650+ Tallboy down La Milagrosa?
    I opt'd for the former:

    Small Travel AM Rig-28577200_10100643733446782_893046826973820521_n.jpg

    Small Travel AM Rig-28575947_10100643733501672_7234229142224655348_n.jpg

    I rode the top 4 bikes on my list and landed on the Instinct. It felt light, responsive, and accelerated quickly. No noticeable bob or wasted energy that I could tell.

    The Santa Cruz lineup was super fun to ride, but I already have a playful hardtail. I figured I may as well go 'big' and get the mid travel 29'r.

    I had no intentions of buying a carbon bike, but I was offered a deal that I couldn't pass up. I wrote a check in addition to the funds that I had from selling my motorcycle and headed home with an Instinct C50 on my roof.

    The 50 build comes with 140mm Fox Float Performance EVOL suspension front and rear, SRAM TL brakes, and a GX Eagle drivetrain. Up to this point, I've run Shimano exclusively on my bikes. I'm excited to try out some SRAM stuff.

    I only had time for a hot lap at the local bunny trails, but even so I can tell this bike is going to be a beast. I'm looking forward to warmer weather so I can get everything dialed in and start logging some miles!

  26. #26
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    what a beauty
    congratulations
    oops I wasn't clipped in

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    Thanks Jim. I'm more anxious than ever waiting for the trails to dry out again. It should be a fun season.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bray D View Post
    ...and headed home with an Instinct C50 on my roof.
    Nice ride. Congrats. Enjoy it.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
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    Congrats on the Instinct. Looks like a sweet ride. I live in the Kansas City area so your trail pic reminds me a lot of my area trails.

    Sounds like the Instinct will travel nicely as well (hoping to head down to Bentonville area myself sometime this year).

    Quote Originally Posted by Bray D View Post
    I opt'd for the former:

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    I rode the top 4 bikes on my list and landed on the Instinct. It felt light, responsive, and accelerated quickly. No noticeable bob or wasted energy that I could tell.

    The Santa Cruz lineup was super fun to ride, but I already have a playful hardtail. I figured I may as well go 'big' and get the mid travel 29'r.

    I had no intentions of buying a carbon bike, but I was offered a deal that I couldn't pass up. I wrote a check in addition to the funds that I had from selling my motorcycle and headed home with an Instinct C50 on my roof.

    The 50 build comes with 140mm Fox Float Performance EVOL suspension front and rear, SRAM TL brakes, and a GX Eagle drivetrain. Up to this point, I've run Shimano exclusively on my bikes. I'm excited to try out some SRAM stuff.

    I only had time for a hot lap at the local bunny trails, but even so I can tell this bike is going to be a beast. I'm looking forward to warmer weather so I can get everything dialed in and start logging some miles!



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by vikb View Post
    Nice ride. Congrats. Enjoy it.
    Quote Originally Posted by HawkGX View Post
    Congrats on the Instinct. Looks like a sweet ride. I live in the Kansas City area so your trail pic reminds me a lot of my area trails.

    Sounds like the Instinct will travel nicely as well (hoping to head down to Bentonville area myself sometime this year).
    Thanks guys. I've been having a blast on the Instinct. At 760mm the bars were a bit wide for our trails, so I cut them to 720mm. It's officially tubeless now as well.

    Aside from that, I picked up some spacer kits and I've been getting the suspension dialed in. This weather is driving me insane. It's been raining all week.

    I've been out a handful of times though, and I'm already setting PR's. It kills the technical climbs and it's a beast when pointed downhill. With all of the options to tune the bike, I should be able to set it up well for wherever I'm riding. This year is going to be absolutely awesome.

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    By austinb89 in forum Downhill - Freeride
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 05-25-2011, 05:50 AM
  5. Replies: 23
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