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  1. #1
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    Crosscountry MTB Advice

    CrossCountry MTB Advice

    My Marzocchi-riding little brother has shamed me into upgrading from my 1988 Takara hardtail with cantilever brakes that I've been thrashing on for 18 years. I have to admit that only four of my Suntour gears worked when we went out riding our local trail, Desert Classic on South Mountain Park. It's time.

    I'd say I'm an intermediate rider with an 80%/20% split for cross-country preference (Desert Classic) and National/Mormon mountain trails respectively.

    My search has narrowed down to a few bikes at local shops in Phoenix that I'd like to support with my business:

    $1299 - Gary Fisher Cake-3 DLX
    This is a 2005 closeout that seems to be a good deal. It felt light, but tall - although it was the right size for me (19"). I found this bike at Rage Cycles in Scottsdale. They had a full-on BMX demo track behind the store that I didn't feel comfortable on it enough to push it. Brakes were excellent, rear end seemed plush! It was my first test ride on a full-suspension, so totally foreign experience. Seemed to be a sound ride, although half the people I talk to bad-mouth Fisher's bikes calling them TREK clones??

    $2000 - Specialized Epic Disc
    $2000 - Specialized FSR XC or StumpJumper
    The epic uses a brain fade shock that really seemed to work. I really liked the "tight" feel of the Epic coming off a hardtail. Just not sure the Epic could take the abuse thrown at it bombing down National Trail. Felt light. The FSR XC seemed too plush in the back – maybe due a cheaper shock or not set up for my weight… but still not as aggressive as the Epic.

    $1299, $1699, $2199 - Jamis Dakar 1.0, 2.0, or 3.0
    These felt heavy (32 lbs) in comparison to the other brands. My bro explained that they were more AM vs XC. The 3.0 had some sweet components: Juicy 7 brakes, Fox Fork, XT. etc.. Overall, clean design, but just felt “porky”

    I know these are all very different bikes with specific design intent behind them. I'd like some specific guidance from those who know the terrain I ride vs. bike performance/reliability/value. Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Stumpjumper!!!

  3. #3
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    I would recomend the Stumpjumper, I own a 06 stumpy fsr expert and love it, i think when in propedal mode it rides close to as good as the brain on the epic. The stumpy seems to be a little more accepting of larger obsticles and downhill than the epic as well. But if you are just looking for a light racer than the epic is the way to go. I dont know much about gary fishers but I love my specialized. I would probably recomend the comp or expert over the base fsr because of the hydrolic brakes. Well thats my soap box standing two cents worth. Good luck with your decision, its a fun one!

  4. #4
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    I'm the bro in this situation and totally think he should go hardtail. He needs to consider "my feelings" here. As I will have wicked envy if he obtains a Stump.

    We're going to try and get the FSR demo bikes down at the local shop. Also, the shop with the Jamis does have some 05 Jamis rentals. Basically, I think we'd like to know if the Epic will completely blow on National/AM. And whether or not the "plush" ride of the FSR would translate into a less fatigueing ride over Desert Classic/XC rides.

  5. #5
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    I am not sure if there is really a correct answer to that. people do national on hardtails its just a matter of how comfortable the ride will be. The epic has 100mm of travel vs 120mm on the stumpy, if you get a stumpy expert its 120 in back and 130 in front. you mentioned AM riding and the stumpjumper would definately be more of that, maybe even an SX Trail or Enduro if you are looking to get really into DH/AM. Not that I am an expert rider or anything but it is my ability that limits my riding not my stumpjumper.
    Last edited by alpha9er; 06-05-2006 at 02:23 PM.

  6. #6
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    i gotta give my .02

    i have been riding a stumpy for the past couple years and will never go back to the fisher hardtail. in fct the only thing i use the hardtail for is converting to singlespeed for some torture, i ride national alot and think the stumpy is worth it. the classic is alot smoother, but again it is all about preference. keep in mind that all those fancy components are just weapons, it is the rider that will determine the ride, but FWIW i think the stumpy is the shizznit!

  7. #7
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    My thoughts............

    I just bought a 06 Stumpjumper disc hardtail....................its pretty friggin sweet.
    I am coming off of a 97 Jamis Dakar FS w/crap components but still a great bike, still have it and still like it. What does this mean, buy what you can afford cause its the rider more than the bike. IMO, FS is great for a comfy ride but not necessary. HT, is great for pedal efficiency but a little rough. For South Mountain a HT is more than fine, for say.... some of Dreamy Draw(rawky) they are good as well but not as cush as a FS. I know this doesn't answer anything but thats my thinking.

    As for a bike shop, Nate at Exhale bikes I-17 & Bell is a great shop. Very helpful and good prices.............unlike some I wont mention.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by kurtiuh
    CrossCountry MTB Advice


    My search has narrowed down to a few bikes at local shops in Phoenix that I'd like to support with my business:


    although half the people I talk to bad-mouth Fisher's bikes calling them TREK clones??

    Thanks
    I second calling Nate at Exhale. Tell him Monkeybutt, Chris or Su Ling sent you. He will take care of you.

    Nothing wrong with the fisher bikes. I have a 293 and love it. I could care less who makes the frame as long as it does it's job and my Trek clone does it well

    Check out those 29'ers too

  9. #9
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    You get a lot of good things with the FSR. A good supension design, good brake behavior, good amount of travel, and so on. Designs like the cake do not suspend as well for a variety of reasons (the shock the necessitate, aren't as stiff so not as good at taking off-camber stuff). The jamis are decent bikes too, and much more in line with my idea of "cross country", because I think the bike should have a pretty even split between uphill and downhill, whereas bikes like the epic are more orientated towards XC racing.

    Even if one does a few races here and there, is it all you are doing? Of course not. Buy the bike to enjoy and have a good time. Buy which one you think will be the most "fun". Don't buy the one that's 1/10th more efficiant or the one that weighs 1/3rd lb less. Go ride them and try to remember which one was the funnest if possible.

    My vote is for the FSR.
    "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

    You're turning black metallic.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrodr
    ...its the rider more than the bike...
    ...or 10% toys, 90% lungs as my bro would tell me after dusting me on Classic with his 15yr old rigid 39lber. The rigidity of a HT def adds to some fatiguing while bouncin' around the rocks. But as you said, it's not the end all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem
    ...bikes like the epic are more orientated towards XC racing...

    My vote is for the FSR.
    I can't agree more. We took them both for a test ride out in the street. Although it's no trail test, riding straight over a curb without pulling up gives a good indication of the plushness the FSR demonstrated. When the rear shock was in full on mode, it did sap some a bit of pedal strength. The overall ride and feel of the FSR was much more relaxed and forgiving than the Epic IMO. Tho I would trade this in a heartbeat for the underachieving shock and it's "in your face" style of riding the Epic served up. My bro on the other hand felt exactly the opposite. His toy was the Epic with it's XC riding style.

    For poops and giggles, the guy had him try a hardtail to see how it would feel. Unfortunately...well, it was a Hardrock with Judy's. Not exactly a fair comparision to the Stump Disc HT he's also considering now.

  11. #11
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    Heres my new addition, on her maiden voyage
    Last edited by dirtrodr; 06-05-2006 at 07:09 PM.

  12. #12
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    Thanks for the input.

    alpha9er & pwrtrainer:

    Thanks for your posts- you're right, the Stumpy FSR is a sound bike - no one ever seems to have any complaints about them. Everyone who gets one, seems to be one more advocate for them.

    dirtrodr:

    Interesting you mention your 06 Stumpy Hardtail Disc. I think I've narrowed my decision to either the Epic or the Hardtail Stumpy Disc. They better suite my riding style, body position and overall feel. I just have a hard time justifying the extra $1000 for an Epic. I couldn't view your pics tho.

    Jayem:

    Your points are significant. I should go for the "fun-factor" and not split hairs on the specs. I just sense I'll have more fun on the Epic or Stumpy Hardtail based on my 18 years of riding. I guess I could get used to a FSR --- what I don't know won't hurt me.

    Anyway, thanks for all the insight. really appreciate it.
    Last edited by kurtiuh; 06-05-2006 at 07:05 PM.

  13. #13
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by kurtiuh
    what I don't know won't hurt me.

    Anyway, thanks for all the insight. really appreciate it.
    One huge thing;

    If you never try it, you'll never know.

    Do different things, try to experience all that's out there.
    "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

    You're turning black metallic.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem
    One huge thing;

    If you never try it, you'll never know.

    Do different things, try to experience all that's out there.
    This is so true. When I came back to mountain biking in 2001, I had been a roadie exclusively for over 10 years. I sought to replicate a roadie low profile riding position on the mountain bike. WRONG. I simply refused to change for some time because "I knew what I knew". When I did finally try something different, it was enlightenment. Change can be wonderful.
    I AM JUST A JERK

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirdir
    This is so true. When I came back to mountain biking in 2001, I had been a roadie exclusively for over 10 years. I sought to replicate a roadie low profile riding position on the mountain bike. WRONG. I simply refused to change for some time because "I knew what I knew". When I did finally try something different, it was enlightenment. Change can be wonderful.

    Well, maybe this is where I'm at then. My entire cycling experiences are on an older bike, with straight bar, crouched position, etc... which feels "right". The Epic seems to offer that same sensation, so it feels natural to me. SMC said they would swap out to a riser bar to improve postion on the Epic. The fact is that I may ultimately enjoy the versatility of the Stumper FSR over time, and like you said.... Try it!

    Money aside - what are the downsides of a Stumpy HT Disc. It seems to be a proven, durable ride.

    Thx.

  16. #16
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    None, you should buy it poser! Unless you're missing a set of these...



    ...and need the comfort of some rear padding.
    Last edited by Jodiuh; 06-05-2006 at 11:31 PM.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by kurtiuh
    Money aside - what are the downsides of a Stumpy HT Disc. It seems to be a proven, durable ride.

    Thx.
    Read the reviews available on this website.

    Personally, I've never owned a bike made in Taiwan, so I can't really comment directly about
    the quality of frames made by child slave-labor welders.
    -- Evil Patrick

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  18. #18
    Too many Sedonuts...
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    Quote Originally Posted by kurtiuh
    Money aside - what are the downsides of a Stumpy HT Disc. It seems to be a proven, durable ride.

    Thx.
    I've always compared hardtails to leather ski boots. They are lighter, perceived to climb better, and allow more "feel" of the trail. If you want to dial up the fun factor however, a good set of plastic boots make the downhill much more worth it, but they weigh more. Same with FS. I personally don't mind the extra weight...boots or bikes...because the added weight adds more power and control on the descent and hence more fun for me.

    By the way, I remember those Takara Hardtails...a shop by my house used to rent them, and I almost bought one before going with a Schwinn High Sierra. Is yours yellow and black with full Deore and 6-speed thumb shifters?

    -JB

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by CactusJoe
    I've always compared hardtails to leather ski boots. They are lighter, perceived to climb better, and allow more "feel" of the trail. If you want to dial up the fun factor however, a good set of plastic boots make the downhill much more worth it, but they weigh more. Same with FS. I personally don't mind the extra weight...boots or bikes...because the added weight adds more power and control on the descent and hence more fun for me.

    By the way, I remember those Takara Hardtails...a shop by my house used to rent them, and I almost bought one before going with a Schwinn High Sierra. Is yours yellow and black with full Deore and 6-speed thumb shifters?

    -JB
    Dear Cactus Joe:
    I like your analogy, it's spot on - the FSR just seemed too plush for my liking. Once I had it on the trail for an hour, I might feel different about it. Too bad my Spec. dealer (South Mnt Cycles) doesn't participate in the test bike program. I may rent a Jamis Dakar XLT from "Fish" at Cactus bike just to get a basic feel of a FS bike. That could be $60 well spent for a 1/2 day of riding - and change my attitude about the Stumpy or a Jamis FS.

    As for my trusty 'ol Takara Hardtail - I got it new from Tempe Bike in 1988 for a sweet $400. It was originally a gay powder blue with pink cables (an '80's theme!) and Suntour thumb shifters. I've completely abused that bike for so many years pounding down National when there were mostly hikers running around up there and before Desert Classic became a superfreeway and still actually had rocks on the trail. Good times!

  20. #20
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    Personally, I've never owned a bike made in Taiwan, so I can't really comment directly about the quality of frames made by child slave-labor welders.
    Well I do own one and I tell you that those little kids make damn good welders, and do it for cheap too

  21. #21
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    Ha!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by alpha9er
    Well I do own one and I tell you that those little kids make damn good welders, and do it for cheap too
    Thank you for the laugh of the day! everyone tries to have a bleeding heart for things they cant control. good to see im not the only sick bastard out there

  22. #22
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    Just an FYI for those of you who took the time to help me out... I stopped all the mental constipation and went for the "fun-factor" at the expense of my checkbook. I took the plunge yesterday and ordered my '06 Epic from South Mnt. Cycles. Hope to give it it's maiden voyage on Desert Classic this Saturday. Thanks again for the insight!!!

    "we ride!"

  23. #23
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    You can't sit and stare at this thing for more than 12 hours without giving it a proper intro man...Friday night ride!!!

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