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  1. #1
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    Specialty vs Production - help with my list

    I use Specialty simply because I don't like the term "Boutique" for the more expensive hand builts on the market. But anyway....

    This is a two pronged post. First I wanted opinion on the two types (ie. Titus vs Spec) and then maybe some help narrowing down my list. Being in the Southeast, i'm not expecting to have an easy time finding bikes to demo without asking around to the local riders. But I'm sure I can find some to try.

    I'm finally starting to do some reasearch on a new AM/Trail bike. I love my HT but I really want something that can take more aggressive lines and terrain and my body not take the beating for it. Also something for more time in the saddle, again with my body having to pay for it. I've thrown the question around some and so far there has been only one production bike anyone has thrown out there as a suggestion. I'm one who believes in paying extra for quality IF it truly warrants the extra cash. I ask here because I find too many of the sales people in the local shops are trying to clear inventory instead of asking and trying to work with me to see what might be the correct make/model for me.

    Some info: 5'8 168-180lbs (hanging closer to the 180 lately), 30" inseam. I feal I'm fairly aggressive on the rides and love to hop around on the trail hitting small bumps roots etc to change the line up a bit. I do enjoy the speed and climbing of my HT, but I feel i'm getting abused for the type of riding I seem to want/try to do with the bike I have. I want a durable ride that I can ride all day and have something left to get back to the car. I am working on the engine for that purpose as well. I do want something I can climb on and not just walk it up to the next run. Ride the Southeast with variable terrain and difficulty between metro Atlanta and Nashville area trails mainly.

    What has been suggested thus far - in no particular order:
    Titus Moto-Lite
    Intense 5.5
    Rocky Mountain Slayer
    Cannondale Rush or Prophet
    Iron Horse MKIII
    Turner 5.5 or RFX
    Santa Cruz Heckler or Nomad

    I haven't been on any of these and I know that is a big part of it. I was just wanting to get some real world input to help narrow my list. Also, please feel free to add anything as well. I was a little surprised to see only one production line even mentioned (cannondale). Any help would be greatly appreciated and if I haven't given enough info, throw out the questions. Thanks in advance
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  2. #2
    thats right living legend
    Reputation: blackagness's Avatar
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    I'm on a Moto-Lite and it would be perfict for what you discribe. I occasionaly ride where you do, and it more than does the job, and probably climbs better than most HT's.

    I don't live in the Atl area, but it seems you wouldn't have "too" much trouble getting some demo rides out there. If you want to check out Turner I strongly suggest Outspoken cycles in Woodstock. Thier a dealer and very good...not sure how thier set up for Turner demo's but I'm very sure theyd work something out as far as you getting a spin...

    Nice list though, and good luck!


    Oh and I hear ya on the boutiq thing. I'm looking for a Mtb not a dress shop. LOL...

  3. #3
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    For cost reasons, I prefer production bkes over botique bikes. If I ahd the money I might have something like a Chumba Evo or a Mojo, but for now I'm going to stick with my Marin. In my mind your paying for the name more than anything.

    Some production frames to add you your short list...
    Giant Reign
    Iron Horse 6 Point (2007) (think MKIII + 1" travel and a bit more burly)
    Marin Quad Tara

    The Quad Tara is not a particularly popular frame here in the US, not sure why exactly. It has a solid suspension design, its very stiff, pedals well and its reasonably light for a trail frame. I would atleast check it out, I only paid 400.00 for mine with an RP3.

    And Botique bikes...
    Ibis Mojo
    Yeti 575
    Chumba Evo


    Bikes I would remove from your list. The Cannondale frames. I'm just not a fan of the single pivot design, and I think you pay a pretty big premium for the name most of the time. While were on the topic, the Heckler could go for the same reasons, unless you buy used.

    Get out and ride some different frames. I drove two and a half hours north to try one bike out and it was worthwhle. So call around, find out what shops have demo bikes and make it a road trip.
    "Physics is timeless. Marketing and bs never lasts. Thats been proven time and time again."
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  4. #4
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    Vulcan never gives up on his bashing of boutique names and single pivots, but always remember names get big for a reason, and designs that dont work dont stay around.

    The Prophet and the Heckler are two of the most versatile bikes on the market and pedal just fine.

  5. #5
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    Nothing wrong with "production" bikes as long as the stock sizes fit you well. I think the main advantages you get with "specialty" bikes are custom geometry (if you need it), generally higher quality, better after-sales support and exclusivity (if you're bothered). You also get to choose all the components for the build, which can make a big difference. Obviously this all depends on what "specialty" manufacturer you choose. The two that stand out from the crowd in terms of quality and customer service are Ventana and Turner. I own a Ventana myself and it really is top notch, well above any production bike I've ever owned. So I'd certainly add the Ventana X5 or Saltamontes to your list. I'd also add the Yeti 575, Specialized Enduro and Giant Reign. As far as production bikes go, Specialized and Giant are tough to beat.
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  6. #6
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    I heard at the lbs the '07 Reign will have room for a 5th coil type shock, and 6.7" travel... That would be a sick frame... Hopefully at this time next year I can find a cheap Reign frame, I didnt want an '06 because of the shock issues... I like my coil shocks

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vulcan
    For cost reasons, I prefer production bkes over botique bikes. If I ahd the money I might have something like a Chumba Evo or a Mojo, but for now I'm going to stick with my Marin. In my mind your paying for the name more than anything.

    Some production frames to add you your short list...
    Giant Reign
    Iron Horse 6 Point (2007) (think MKIII + 1" travel and a bit more burly)
    Marin Quad Tara

    The Quad Tara is not a particularly popular frame here in the US, not sure why exactly. It has a solid suspension design, its very stiff, pedals well and its reasonably light for a trail frame. I would atleast check it out, I only paid 400.00 for mine with an RP3.

    And Botique bikes...
    Ibis Mojo
    Yeti 575
    Chumba Evo


    Bikes I would remove from your list. The Cannondale frames. I'm just not a fan of the single pivot design, and I think you pay a pretty big premium for the name most of the time. While were on the topic, the Heckler could go for the same reasons, unless you buy used.

    Get out and ride some different frames. I drove two and a half hours north to try one bike out and it was worthwhle. So call around, find out what shops have demo bikes and make it a road trip.
    Your cost reasons are valid, cost is certainly a good reason to choose production. I disagree about the Quad Tara being very stiff and solid, although it is reasonably light. I also think your dismissal of single pivots is narrow minded and you contradict yourself by recommending the Yeti 575, which is a single pivot design. Or did you just mean single pivots with direct shock activation?
    [SIZE="2"]Remember, there is no black magic or witchcraft, it's only a machine[/SIZE]

  8. #8
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    too many choices.

    I was just in the same boat...going from HT to FS. I live in Athens, so we probably ride alot of the same trails. Let me tell you, it is a hard choice to make. in the end i chose a Stumpy because of what you get for the money, i liked the ride, i wanted to buy from a local shop, and it has a great warranty. I just got it all dialed in for my taste and i'm very happy with my choice. It is very comparable to the Motolite, but cheaper and better warranty. There are so many good bike designs out now, it's hard to make a bad decision. you can research and get opinions till your head spins. test ride, test ride, test ride. compare geometries and components.
    If you live in around atlanta, you'll have more options from local shops than i had.


    Stumpy FSR expert
    Giant Trance 2/ Reign 2 - depending on your wieght/travel opinion
    Motolite
    Yeti 575
    IronHorse MKIII
    Blur
    Turner 5

  9. #9
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    Nothing wrong with mass produced or boutique. As Vulcan mentioned, if cost is a factor, going with a mass produced bike is the way to go and the quality of mountain bikes has improved so much over the last few years, that you are not missing out on much. A couple of examples are Cannondale and Giant. There are many others, but these two stand out to me as companies that offer quality products at every price point.

    I prefer "specialty" frames because most of these companies seem to offer a little more versatility in terms of options available on a bike. Shock options, custom sizing, paint choices, etc, etc. Some companies go out of their way to make their bikes stand out in terms of performance and appearance. For example, Foes and Ventana are well known for having very stiff frames. Turner is well known for Bushings with zerk fittings. Not to mention, the boutique bikes are a little more rare and not everyone is on the same rig as you on the trail. We could debate for hours on the merits of performance vs cost, but I am not getting into that right now.

    I would recommend getting a 5.5, Prophet, Mk III, Moto Lite, and 5-spot for the riding you describe. It seems you value serious climbing and these bikes can easily handle the bumps on the way down. You are also light enough (especially at your optimum weight) that frame durability should not be an issue. The RFX is a little too much, unless you plan on doing some freeriding on the side. Not that it can't climb, because it can, but it is pretty portly. The Heckler is not as beefy as the RFX, but is not as xc oriented as the others on the list.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by davec113
    I heard at the lbs the '07 Reign will have room for a 5th coil type shock, and 6.7" travel... That would be a sick frame... Hopefully at this time next year I can find a cheap Reign frame, I didnt want an '06 because of the shock issues... I like my coil shocks
    I though it was just a prototype, or did I miss something? I bet an Iron Horse 6-point will fit a coil.
    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

  11. #11
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    Like the 575

    I was in the same boat about 18 months ago. Trying to decide what bike to buy when moving from a HT to a FS ride. After looking at most of the bikes mentioned here I ended up with the Yeti 575. Liked the components, the frame design, the fact that there are none around and the quality reputation for their bikes. Now that I've had a year and a half on it, I would buy it all over again.

  12. #12
    3 "fiddy" for short
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    Quote Originally Posted by uktrailmonster
    Nothing wrong with "production" bikes as long as the stock sizes fit you well. I think the main advantages you get with "specialty" bikes are custom geometry (if you need it), generally higher quality, better after-sales support and exclusivity (if you're bothered). You also get to choose all the components for the build, which can make a big difference. Obviously this all depends on what "specialty" manufacturer you choose. The two that stand out from the crowd in terms of quality and customer service are Ventana and Turner. I own a Ventana myself and it really is top notch, well above any production bike I've ever owned. So I'd certainly add the Ventana X5 or Saltamontes to your list. I'd also add the Yeti 575, Specialized Enduro and Giant Reign. As far as production bikes go, Specialized and Giant are tough to beat.

    If I were to add anything to your list I would have to agree with "the Trailmonster".

    I am currently riding a Turner 5-Spot in the mountains of PA and it just eats up the rocks, roots, and small to medium drops that we come across. It is a very well built frame that uses bushings instead of bearings. Now, some think, "bushings, why would you use bushings?" and I simply look at the facts. The Spot is very stiff and requires very little maint. when it comes to sus pivots. When you have to maintain the pivots all you do is take your grease gun and squirt a little grease in the zerks and BAM, your done. Some people have never changed the bushings in their pivots for several years and the bike still works like new. Turner pitch over!!!

    I have never ridden a X-5 but all I hear is how good and stiff that thing is. Also, like the Turners, you can use different rockers to make you bike a 6" or 5" ride (as far as Turners go you dont want to use 6" rockers on a Spot, but the RFX can be build up as the 5 Pack which is the RFX front tri with Spot rockers.). Many people have the X-5 and would love to talk to you about it on the Ventana forum.

    When it comes to these "spec" frames your do get what you pay for. Turner and Ventana are known for exceptional CS. If you have any problems call them and they will get back to you in NO TIME at all. I called Turner with a question once and talked for about 30 min and was never rushed. Also, my emails with Turner are answered the same day or the next day at the latest.

    You are on the right track. Keep doing the research and see if you cant get your hands on some of these different rides. That will be the true test to see what you like.

  13. #13
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    Depends on how much money you want to spend and how "agressive" you are or want to be. Check the new Chumba bikes. The EVO is awesome rig with 6 inch of travel but still climbs really well. Or if you are more XC oriented then the XCL is really nice.

    Just want to add to your confusion.

  14. #14
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    There have been lots of great bikes mentioned in this thread already, but I really do need to add one more:

    Sinister Splinter ER

    It is a link activated single pivot. You can adjust the geomerty using apull rod that forms part of the linkage - steepen it for singletrack, slack it out for more FR oriented stuff. Outstanding geometry - feels great in all settings. Hand built by FTW. I've got teh MX version of the Splinter since I like to drop off of things, but I would not hesitiate to abuse an ER.

    Problem is they have stopped making them for the time being (if you can find a used one, GET IT), but an all new version is coming this fall supposedly. I've seen and parking lot tested the proto and it is unbelievable. FTW is doing something very different with the suspension and it is like nothing else I have ever ridden. It is probably worth waitng for.
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  15. #15
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    There is no real cost advantage to buying production bikes over the "specialty" makers you listed, especially the Motolite and Heckler which are such great values making it very easy to have a very nice build under $3000.00.
    Of the ones you listed the Heckler and Motolite would be the only two I would consider for what you describe. I would take the Heckler with the DHX coil or air if you leaned more towards the downhill, it would give you 140 mm (it feels like a lot more with the coil) of travel and still be great on the climbs ~30 lbs or the Motolite with the RP3 rips the climbs like an XC bike and gives up very little on the DH. Both the bikes you can get with fox forks and an XT/X-9 level build for around $2600.00. I have owned both in the last two years and prefer the Moto-Lite because it is so much more efficient climbing and still a blast on the downhills. What ever you decide take Iron Horse of your list, there is no way it will hold up like the others or match the quality of the others.

  16. #16
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    I'm exactly you size and ride a 17inch Jamis XLT. I was concerned with pedaling efficiency as well as I live in Maine where there is a decent amount of climbing to be had... with the Vanilla RLC up front it near perfection for me.

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