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  1. #1
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    Looking for some local PHX help deciding on a new all-mountain hardtail.

    Hello all. Posting in here because I'm going to base my choice on the trails I like riding in PHX so I figured I'd ask my fellow riders here in town.

    I began mountain biking doing DH riding (SoMo/Sunrise/Bootleg Canyon) on a Santa Cruz VP Free about 3 years ago on and off... last year, on a whim, I decided to buy my girlfriend a bike to ride so she could at least cruise Sedona and Flag's very easy trails with me. I purchased an el-cheapo Motobecane Outcast 29'er. Well, after some minor brake/drivetrain/cockpit upgrades, it's somehow turned into the bike I spend all MY time on.

    I feel that the 29er's climbing and cruising abilities are great. The lower areas of PMP (Trail 100) are awesome on it... until I try to jump it over and/or into rock gardens and the like. I only weigh 140 lbs but it feels really spindly/wobbly/flexy through even the mellow technical stuff. Up and down National, I sometimes feel like I'm going to break it. Granted, it's not a very rugged build either. 28 hole WTB wheelset and a RockShox Dart 3 which at least has rebound control or else it'd just be a pogo-stick.

    I'm still interested in keeping this hardtail thing going so I've been gravitating towards a Transition Trans-AM, Santa Cruz Chameleon, Cove Handjob and the On-One 456. My MTB experience level still sits in the novice-ish category. I'm a somewhat decent rider and can do all my own maintenance on my bikes, but I've only owned and ridden just my VP Free and this Motobecane.

    I'd like a bike that I feel confident going through anything in PMP and SoMo. Maybe even try some slow speed mellow hardtail DH stuff on it. Essentially a solid all-mountain hardtail build. Goes up well. Goes down well. With the occasional trade-offs.

    Opinions? Am I heading in the right direction? Thoughts on any of those specific bikes? Build a more rugged 29'er?

    Thanks a ton!

  2. #2
    No Clue Crew
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    I had the same thoughts. I built a Ragley Blue Pig steel hardtail with a 160 front fork. Rode it a couple times out at PMP (1A, VOAZ, Irregular, Cheesegrater, etc.) and a couple times at Somo (Geronimo, National). Absolutely hated it.

    There's a reason you don't see a lot of 26er hardtails on our trails.

  3. #3
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    Sorry. One more bike in consideration. Salsa El Mariachi. Thanks again!

  4. #4
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    What were your negative impressions of the ride quality of the Ragley? It's right in line with everything I'm looking at.

  5. #5
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    Reputation: Noelg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blatant View Post
    There's a reason you don't see a lot of 26er hardtails on our trails.
    What the ?

    I guess I'm doing it all wrong!
    "Nobody ever told me not to try" - Curious George Soundtrack by Jack Johnson

  6. #6
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    Highly recommend the Salsa El Mar or similar steel frame 29er. Set it up single speed for a totally different riding experience, on xc trails. Keep the VP Free for downhill and gnar. Singlespeeding will make you a better overall rider, but if that's not your bag you can set it up geared.

  7. #7
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    Thanks DR. I checked out a few bikes and did a TON of online research... I think I'm going to hang out until October when I can give one of these a spin :

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blatant View Post
    I had the same thoughts. I built a Ragley Blue Pig steel hardtail with a 160 front fork. Rode it a couple times out at PMP (1A, VOAZ, Irregular, Cheesegrater, etc.) and a couple times at Somo (Geronimo, National). Absolutely hated it.

    There's a reason you don't see a lot of 26er hardtails on our trails.
    What is the reason?

    29'rs are to Mountain biking that "BIG HEAD" Drivers are to golf.
    For those that need just a little help.

  9. #9
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    i've got a surly instigator frame you're more than welcome to borrow and build up as an interim/test bike until you figure out what you want. steel, 26", burly. PM me if you're interested.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by benk0 View Post
    What were your negative impressions of the ride quality of the Ragley? It's right in line with everything I'm looking at.
    Sorry, missed this. Most "all mountain" hardtail 26ers have pretty similar geo. The biggest thing was weight. That damn thing was incredibly heavy and did not pedal well at all. The bike was much nicer geo-wise on the descents, but I couldn't successfully translate my meager DH skillset into flowing on the hardtail. It really is a much, much different ride and needs a different style.

    At least for me, our trails are far too rocky and I was always hung up on the rear. My take was if you ride buff or more manicured DH stuff (ie, NOT the type of trails we have here), the AM hardtail would be great fun. It was no fun at all for me.

    I'm not necessarily a fan of 29ers, but if I was considering a hardtail, it would be of the SS 29er variety.

  11. #11
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    I would look at the Yeti Big Top (29er) - its got slacker angles than most 29er HTs and looks pretty stiff: tapered head tube, 7005 front triangle, option for running a 142X12 rear wheel. Even has SS-friendly dropouts if you end up going that route (who doesn't at some point?). For steel, the new Canfield Nimble 9 looks cool - slack angles with short stays.
    ride natty ride

  12. #12
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    For what its worth- I ride an '07 GF Rig 29ss. I am lightweight so I haven't had any frame issues like I have heard about and seen from others. The Reba on the front is okay, a little bit flexy, but I do fine with it. The wheel set is Bontrager Mustangs, A little heavy, but I rip on them hard.

    I can ride anytihing at PMP, rip pretty good down National etc. Jumping wise- with an 80mm fork, I try to avoid more that three feet of airtime, but again- I am light (<150lb) and flow more than plow through trail. Problem I see with a lot of HT builds and some OEM's is they put on a 120mm fork (OEM's do this to look like the real deal I think) when going over 100mm can put geometry out of whack making the bike handle like a bowl of oatmeal.

    Your experience on the MB is probably due to this- your frame is a door hinge- I rode one and hated it. Even my spindly legs twisted the BB. The fork is garbage for anything but canal path-too much flex in the bushings and the wheels I would guess probably just add to it. (Cheap bars can that too)

    26 or 29 is a preference. I like the ride of the 29 on a HT and I never liked any of the FS bikes I had. Just did not fit my style of riding. Hope that helps!
    Find a ride on FB> AZ MTB

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  13. #13
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    I ride a Santa Cruz Chameleon SS. I Built it up pretty beefy with a 150mm Fox Float RLC w/FIT cartridge (Works great for nearly all conditions, XC, Tech, Chunk, drops, ect). It is set up hydro disc brakes, with 2.5" tires, that I usually run between 35 and 40 psi. I am 195 lbs and can abuse wheels so a good tire/tube combo is essential.

    Currently I am running a 30/18 gear. This works for nearly everything out at SOMO. The 30 tooth sprocket has really helped with the extra ground clearance. (used to rn 32/19)My weekly routine really only consist of up and down national, with an occational trip up Javalina first, recently added Bees Knees/Gila(Great before work trails), then I try to mix in Pass Mountain as well. Clockwise or Counter clockwise.

    My Chameleon is literally my do it all bike, takes a beating that is for sure. I rarely even touch my full suspension anymore.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by EZSHUM_331 View Post
    I ride a Santa Cruz Chameleon SS. I Built it up pretty beefy with a 150mm Fox Float RLC w/FIT cartridge (Works great for nearly all conditions, XC, Tech, Chunk, drops, ect). It is set up hydro disc brakes, with 2.5" tires, that I usually run between 35 and 40 psi. I am 195 lbs and can abuse wheels so a good tire/tube combo is essential.

    Currently I am running a 30/18 gear. This works for nearly everything out at SOMO. The 30 tooth sprocket has really helped with the extra ground clearance. (used to rn 32/19)My weekly routine really only consist of up and down national, with an occational trip up Javalina first, recently added Bees Knees/Gila(Great before work trails), then I try to mix in Pass Mountain as well. Clockwise or Counter clockwise.

    My Chameleon is literally my do it all bike, takes a beating that is for sure. I rarely even touch my full suspension anymore.
    Your bike is one that is built for the bigger fork- nice thing about those!
    Find a ride on FB> AZ MTB

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  15. #15
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    If you look at a Cove- hit up Dean at Bicycleworld.tv I beleive he still sells them on there and he is local, so he may have one for you to try out.
    Find a ride on FB> AZ MTB

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  16. #16
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    I'm currently riding a kona five-o hardtail and have taken it down national and geronimo. Interestingly enough, I still find myself hitting many of the same lines on somo as I did when I rode full suspension. Theres alot of good hardtail frames out there, but to really make them great for the trails here you need a good fit, quality wheels, and a tuned fork (imo). GL!

  17. #17
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    I hit all the same lines, too. Just couldn't do it at the same speed as my suspension bikes. I think it's a cool idea and if you can rock it, cool. I couldn't here in the Valley. Probably be awesome on some stuff in Flag.

  18. #18
    Not at the table,Carlos!
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    I've had my 06 Santa Cruz Chameleon for three years. I have owed multiple full squish Konas and SC's. The Chameleon is my favorite bike of all of them, including my 2011 Nomad.

    I've had mine set up full geared, 1x9 and at this moment single speed.

    The Chameleon is reliable in any situation. Whether you want a day-long geared or single speed ride, to go down to the dirt jumps or (with the right fork) hit some light duty DH, it can do it all.

    Here is my SS with a 2011 Rock Shox Sektor. I pretty much keep it at 150mm
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fb...type=1&theater

    Reviews:
    http://www.mtbr.com/cat/bikes/freeri...5_1544crx.aspx
    JAY~AR~AYE

  19. #19
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    If you still want 29er - try a Banshee Paradox or that Kona you posted. I love my Paradox - 135mm fork w through axle on the front makes a huge difference. I weigh 220 and don't notice much flex.

  20. #20
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    Good call on the Paradox. That definitely popped up on my radar...

    I've never owned one, but I think I want a Cro-Mo/Steel frame. I know Canfield has two options (which may or may not even be available yet) which are expensive so waiting till October doesn't seem like that big a deal to get a complete turn-key build. Estimated MSRP is $1750 or something in that neighborhood.

  21. #21
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    If you are interested in a 26er:

    I purchased a 456 this spring because I wanted a strong hardtail. I started jumping off stuff using my expensive custom steel xc hardtail, and decided I didn't want to break that frame. I didn't know if I would like a heavy built hardtail, but I have been very pleased with the outcome. Very inexpensive (big deciding factor), seems very strong, rides well up, down, and xcountry. The frame is heavy for a hardtail (but a minor concern since I have an old Manitou Firefly on it--it weighs a lot, plus EX721s, North Shore crank, and other heavy stuff). And it is pink--helped me get out of my black/blue/gray color comfort zone.

    I don't plan to put a tire on the back any bigger than 2.3", but On-One says a 2.5" can fit (I assume a "small" 2.5 will fit OK).

    They have 29ers, but I think they are xc aluminum frames.

    I have ridden it only in Tucson Mountains. No downhill type stuff, but plenty of rocks to make it interesting.

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