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  1. #1
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    Sanity Check - About to buy a hardtail...

    Quick history - Bought myself an entry-level 29er last year to celebrate quitting smoking/turning 40. Didnt get out on the trails nearly as much as I intended, due to work and 2 young kids. I made it out to san-tan and south mountain a few times each, and loved it each time. I did, however, put in a bunch of road miles on that bike. So many, in fact, that after my first ride over 30mi I was convinced a road bike was for me and I sold my 29er to fund it.

    I now have a change in my work situation which will give me alot more freedom to get some biking in. Thus I am back to looking for a bit less entry level mountain bike. Right now, I am strongly leaning towards a 2013 Kona Kahuna. Its a 1200$ msrp HT, on-sale for about 1k out the door. We are talking a sram x5 bike, with decent hydros and a the first level of rockshox with rebound adjust.

    I was reading one of the other threads here and got the impression almost everyone was riding FS. With a growing family, dropping a grand on a toy for daddy is hard enough, but I don't want to make a mistake here and get something that will really limit what I can do in the local area.

    I intend to ride trails 2 times per week. I live in chandler, so San Tan and SoMo will be my main stomping grounds during the week.

    I pretty much grew up on bikes, and have felt pretty comfortable on all of my mountain biking adventures so far. Frankly the lack of endurance and the fear of falling over dead from 25 years of hard living are probably my biggest limiting factors.

    Anyways, how limiting would a bike like the Kahuna be for the stuff around Phoenix? Should I be looking for a FS bike? A higher spec hard-tail?

    I guess I am feeling like I need to hurry and buy a bike to get back out there and to take advantage of clearance prices, but don't want to rush into the decision and buy a bike that is going to limit me after 6 months or something. Also torn on 2x10 vs 3x9. THinking 3x9 will give me more/easier climbing and let me have some fun while my fitness develops.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    That is a good deal on that bike. I personally love Kona hardtails. I feel that they overbuild their bikes. And a 2x10 is designed to give you the same gear range as a 3x9 while eliminating some of the 'unused' gears in the middle. Just look at the amount of teeth on the crank as apposed to the 3x9. Usually the big on the 2 will have a few more than the middle on a 3, then the extra gear on the cassette makes up the difference.

    A hardtail really doesn't limit you. Granted I ride a full suspension, but that is just preference, not necessity. I think it's a good deal.
    “Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world.”
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  3. #3
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    You can ride a hardtail on Somo and San tan no problem. While I am a fan of Kona, an aluminum frame will have a harsh ride on our rocky trails. You could either get a better seat post to help soften the ride or go to a larger volume tire, tubeless, in the rear, or both. Have you tried looking for a steel hard tail? Maybe try looking for a last years Honzo on sale? Or a slightly used one?

    Good luck. Don't rush into it, there is always a sale on bikes.
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  4. #4
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    I almost always ride my hardtails at Somo, McDowells, and Pass Mnts. Riding high volume tires in a tubeless setup helps a lot to cut down on chatter and absorb hits. Check out the new Maxxis Ikon 2.35 for example. Also carbon bars, carbon seat post, or a dropper post with a little travel will also tame down some of the vibrations.
    " the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." C&H

  5. #5
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    Sanity Check - About to buy a hardtail...

    I have both a HT and FS--both 29ers--and ride the HT 90% of the time. I'm not an aggressive rider, but I feel more comfy on the HT. More responsive, and makes me pay attention. I have an Alum. Niner, and I agree go either steel or carbon if you can afford.
    Nobody gives a s#$t you singlespeed.

  6. #6
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    Same here, I bought a kick ass 26 full suspension Pivot Mach 5.7 on ebay and felt very disconnected with the trail and also felt like riding in molasses with all that travel.

    I ride a 29 titanium HT with titanium post and tubeless set up. I ride pretty much everything on it in AZ. It took some time for me to get comfortable on the rocky trails like Deems - now I love it - picking lines, unweighing the bike, picking up the front wheel etc. basically good techniques help with riding over rough stuff. Sonoran preserve is made for HT, you could even ride it rigid.

    By all means get the HT, tubeless set up would helpful to take out the chatter, nice compliant post would help but really you should learn to ride out of your seat...

  7. #7
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    Honestly, if it came down to a nice hardtail or a meh full suspension, I'd take the HT. A meh full suspension does more harm than good, IMO. Outdated suspension designs or cheap components can really sap a lot of energy from your pedaling efforts.

    Just buy the best component group you can, and when it breaks, replace it with the next tier up.

  8. #8
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    Consider putting together a Karate Monkey.
    Great price for a steel bike and you can do anything with it: single speed, suspension fork or not, geared, etc.
    The frame geometry is great for climbing chunk too, IMO, with the shortened chain stays and regular XC geometry otherwise.
    It will take longer to pit it together for the price of the Kahuna, due to having to find all the other parts, but it might end up being a better bike. I got the frame and fork recently from a local shop with a nice headset installed and tax for 475.
    However, the Kahuna will likely work great if you don't want to bother with bargin custom building via CL, ebay, etc.
    Let's see your KM builds

  9. #9
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    I love this forum, you guys rock!

  10. #10
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    On Kona's website they list the 2013 model as having deore components and a 3x10 setup. It sounds like, from this thread, that the bike you are looking at is SRAM x-5 2x10... is this correct? I would rather have a 3x10 setup for the wider gear range. Also, the nice thing about the Rockshox xc 32 tk is that you can buy an air spring for the recon forks and it will fit. Its a cheap $68 mode. I can't believe how expensive bikes have gotten in the past 3 years. Healthcare hasn't even gone up that much in comparison. This would have been an $850 bike 3 years ago. The price is good in today's market and it is a nice looking bike. For $400 more you can get a Diamondback Overdrive Pro from Jenson USA shipped and it comes with a mix of XT and SLX components and a Fox CTD fork.
    Killing it with close inspection.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireLikeIYA View Post
    I can't believe how expensive bikes have gotten in the past 3 years. Healthcare hasn't even gone up that much in comparison. This would have been an $850 bike 3 years ago. The price is good in today's market and it is a nice looking bike.
    Everything has gotten more expensive. Bikes, cars, food, anything. But, also, a bike today is nothing like a bike from five years ago. Brakes, suspension, derailleurs, anything, the technology available and the quality is awesome.

    Five years ago, if I said I wanted a rear derailleur with a clutch mechanism in it so I didn't get chain slap, I couldn't have one, regardless of price. Now, I can get it at the SLX level all day long for under $100. Today's SLX is way better than five years's ago XTR could ever dream of.

    Bikes cost a lot, but you get a lot too.

  12. #12
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    Happy on my 29HT Stumpjumper. I have a carbon seat post, and run pretty low PSI on my tubeless set up and ride all over the PHX area with no issues.

  13. #13
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    I ride a 26in hardtail. It might limit my downhill speed on some trails, but I still ride all the trails I want.
    Joe
    '12 Santa Cruz Highball 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", '06 Rocky Mtn Switch 26" XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  14. #14
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    I also have a stumpjumper ht, and a cannondale sl2 ht... both 29ers

    I find the cannondale a bit more comfortable on the chunk/technical... but the stumpjumper is a faster bike... Love them both...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by azjonboy View Post
    While I am a fan of Kona, an aluminum frame will have a harsh ride on our rocky trails.
    This. If I were to buy a hardtail, it would be this one...
    On-One 456 Evo2 Shimano Deore Mountain Bike

    I had one, it was pretty bad ass for a hardtail...but hardtails aren't my style...
    The secret to mountain biking is pretty simple. The slower you go the more likely it is you’ll crash.
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  16. #16
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    Last edited by FireLikeIYA; 08-10-2013 at 06:54 PM.
    Killing it with close inspection.

  17. #17
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    Re: Sanity Check - About to buy a hardtail...

    I think you'd be just fine with a really nice hard tail. Especially for out here. The trails are relatively short. The only time I saw a hardtail hold someone back was when we rode with my buddy's brother in Moab. Bombing down miles and miles and miles of Porcupine trail he could not keep up with us. He's a good rider but all that chatter and ledgey chunk over a very long stretch just left him way behind. We kept having to wait for him. But like I said out here the trails are much shorter. Yes there's plenty of rocky chatter but that should not hold you back once you get good at it.

    All that being said I still prefer a really nice full suspension over a really nice hard tail.

  18. #18
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    I love my on one inbread 29er

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by woahey View Post
    This. If I were to buy a hardtail, it would be this one...
    On-One 456 Evo2 Shimano Deore Mountain Bike

    I had one, it was pretty bad ass for a hardtail...but hardtails aren't my style...
    Except 1000 quid is $1550 US. Ouch.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireLikeIYA View Post
    On Kona's website they list the 2013 model as having deore components and a 3x10 setup. It sounds like, from this thread, that the bike you are looking at is SRAM x-5 2x10... is this correct?
    Actually that is the 2014 bike your looking at. The 2013 is full x5, 3x9, Elixer 1s. The 2014 gets full deore, but the price goes up another 100$ and no closeout pricing , so its almost 50% more after taxes.

    Great tip on the shock that will be one of the first things I look into!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eazy_E View Post
    Except 1000 quid is $1550 US. Ouch.
    The $1287 price is in USD. $1387 total shipped to the US.
    The secret to mountain biking is pretty simple. The slower you go the more likely it is you’ll crash.
    - Julie Furtado

  22. #22
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    Checked out the Rockhopper pro today. Liked it but concerned about the 28 fork vs 32. price quoted was 1080 vs 1300 retail. then of course I would be an idiot not to upgrade to the carve for only 300 more. But then I could probably be in a stumpjumper for another 300. Next thing you know its a carbon FS bike that costs more than my car. Frustrating!

    Im going to brew on the steel thing and try to check out a jamis in person on Monday.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by eatdrinkride View Post

    All that being said I still prefer a really nice full suspension over a really nice hard tail.




    Not sure I could handle full suspension.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Sanity Check - About to buy a hardtail...-tumblr_mr652emcxb1ruz6zso1_500.jpg  


  24. #24
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    Specialized... you can buy better but you can't pay more.
    Killing it with close inspection.

  25. #25
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    Sanity Check - About to buy a hardtail...

    Just my 2cents here but if you get the chance, demo a FS and a HT on the same trail. I was in your shoes last year. Picked up a '13 stumpy HT. loved it at first, but my riding buddies noticed I was definitely slower on the descents and Techy climbs, and I noticed my confidence was a little lower on the HT as well when things got really bumpy. Fast forward 9 months later and I ended up selling the HT for a new stumpy FSR. LOVE this new bike!! I'm having more fun, and have a ton more confidence to clear things I wouldn't even try before on the HT.
    Now, EASY E mentioned a "meh" FS causes problems and that is very true, a "good" FS is gonna cost you more coin, no question about it. But, would you rather drop the extra coin now, or buy a HT and take a loss on it 6 months later when you sell it for a FS? This is why I think riding both is sooooo important, when you spend this kind of cash on something, it's important to be 100% sure you make the right choice. Heck, you may find you prefer a HT like so many on here do. For me personally, my skills aren't that great and that added cushion of a rear shock and overall travel makes up for some of my shortcomings, resulting in more fun on the trail. Again, just my personal opinion and experience. Good luck buddy, whatever you choose will be good since its getting you out on the trails!

  26. #26
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    it may take you years to figure what and where you want to ride.

    So don't spend too much and keep trying different bikes and different trails

  27. #27
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    Kona has a 27.5 coming out for 2014. It has a "scandium" frame that Kona tech says rides softer than their current steel options. Only issue is the sister bike, the explosif has pedal strike issues because of the low bb. I can't read a geometry chart, so I can't speculate on it. Does this bike look like it would be an issue for our local rides? I did miss some 'flickability' on my last 29er.


    KONA BIKES | 2014 BIKES | TRAIL 27.5" HT | CINDER CONE

  28. #28
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    Can most riders tell the difference with FS to HT? Yes. But most riders could not be able to tell the difference between HT frame materials. Of course the very regular riders can. Low BB height? I wouldn't call that an issue. Really just best to make sure it fits. You'll want to ride more if it fits you well. If it fits, you won't even notice the slight potential difference with frame material and BB height, you'll just want to ride. I'd say don't sweat the small differences.
    “Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world.”
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  29. #29
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    If Kona says a scandium frame rides softer than their current steel offerings, maybe you should re-consider buying a steel Kona and look for a used steel frame that's made from better tubing.

    When a manufacturer calls a frame material scandium, it as really a minute amount of scandium added to the aluminum alloy. It will make the aluminum stronger and allow for thinner tubes, which is where the weight savings and better ride ( than pure aluminum ) come from. It can also decrease the shelf life of a frame as scandium can be brittle. Scandium is also harder to work with than 6000 or 7000 series aluminum. I think the cost and difficulty of manipulating scandium is why Niner stopped making their scandium frames.
    If you're lucky enough to be in the mountains,
    you're lucky enough.

  30. #30
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    I had an old GT hard tail 26er and went to a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp. Obviously the price difference is huge, but in my eyes it was worth it. I was looking at a cheaper hard tail bike at first, but decided to bite the bullet and go with the stumpy. I love this ride. I'm climbing better (thanks to 29 inch wheels) and taking downhills much faster and feeling much less beat up at the end of the ride. I really recommend going FS if you can do it. Global bikes has the specialized camber 29 for 1749 -10% off. I would check it out. Specialized Camber 29 - Arizona bike shop - Top Specialized bike dealer - Chandler - Gilbert - Ahwatukee Bike shops
    Also to note is they do a 90 day same as cash financing with no credit check.
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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by TBoneAz View Post
    I can't read a geometry chart, so I can't speculate on it.
    The bottom bracket height is about 12". If a bottom bracket height isn't listed look for bottom bracket drop. 1/2 the tire height minus the bottom bracket drop equals the bb height.
    The secret to mountain biking is pretty simple. The slower you go the more likely it is you’ll crash.
    - Julie Furtado

  32. #32
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    Sanity Check - About to buy a hardtail...

    That's a fine bike for a newer rider, and a good price. There are, as you see from this thread, plenty of options, although many of us started on an aluminum mid-grade hardtail, or at least have owned one at some point. The only thing I'd suggest otherwise is stopping by a local bike shop near your home and telling them your budget, and about this bike you are planning to buy, and ask them to show you something comparable. Either way you will need a good bike shop, and will probably want to set your wheels up sealant-tubeless or at least get thorn-proof slimed (sealant) tubes to avoid flats (see Figure 1.) . Don't over think it though... We are lucky to live here so get out and ride, bro'. Happy trails.

    Figure 1. Welcome to Arizona
    Sanity Check - About to buy a hardtail...-imageuploadedbytapatalk1376438340.681564.jpg

  33. #33
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    In the interest of best bang for your buck, remember to consider used. Bikes are no different than most other fitness equipment in that people buy nice shiny objects with the best intentions of using them, and then they sit in their garages after being ridden once or twice until they're sold at a steep discount. Craigslist, ebay, classifieds on mtbr. classifieds on tucsonmtb.com are all good places to look. There's a good chance you could get into an XT bike for that price used.
    Fall in Fruita/GJ. F' yeah! Lunch Loops are riding sweet and so is everything else.

  34. #34
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    So it seems like I need to find a shop that rents a good cross-section of bikes and try some out. Any shops that rent and are close to a decent intermediate trail? I've seen every thing cactus bikes ahwatukee has to offer, so other than them. I would also need to be able to rent the bike, ride, return it and be in down-town chandler by 11:45am, so nothing too far north.

    Anyone know charge bikes? This steel framed 29er seems like a pretty good value:

    Product: 2013 Charge Cooker Hi Mountain Bike

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by TBoneAz View Post
    So it seems like I need to find a shop that rents a good cross-section of bikes and try some out. Any shops that rent and are close to a decent intermediate trail? I've seen every thing cactus bikes ahwatukee has to offer, so other than them. I would also need to be able to rent the bike, ride, return it and be in down-town chandler by 11:45am, so nothing too far north.

    Anyone know charge bikes? This steel framed 29er seems like a pretty good value:

    Product: 2013 Charge Cooker Hi Mountain Bike
    Last time I was there, Bikes Direct (Gilbert/202) had free Demo bike rentals. They carry mostly Giant bikes. I believe you have to put down a $200 deposit but they refund you in full as long as the bike doesn't come back with some real damage on it.
    Killing it with close inspection.

  36. #36
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    I appreciate all of the advice in the thread. Most of it has been quite good.

    Today, however, I realized I am suffering from "opportunity cost". I have pretty much spent every waking moment for the last 2 weeks researching, obsessing over what kind of bike to get. The prospect of waiting months and spending hundreds on rental bikes trying to find the perfect bike makes me feel ill. I could be riding!!!

    Adam Corolla always says there are no bad cars these days. I think the same thing applies to bikes. There are always better bikes, it just depends on how much money you want to spend.

    "Your buying the bike store as much as the bike". I think this is especially true with a lower end bike. Ive visited a ton of bike shops. 2 stood out, and one of them is 2x further away from my house, and doesn't have anything I am interested in stock.

    I spend last year riding a very budget 29er. I will spend this year riding a higher end 29er. I will reconsider my next bike purchase next year around this time.

    Thus I declare tomorrow to be the day I walk into my favorite bike store and flip a coin on one of 2 ~1k$ hardtails I have had my eye on. I will then convert it to ghetto tubeless, toss carbon post/bars on it, and commence to try to push the bike 3.37% past our collective limits. When stuff breaks I will upgrade it. The rest of the time I will actually be able to sleep, get some work done, etc.

    Thanks for all of the advice in the thread! It has helped alot!

  37. #37
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    Look at the 2013 carve if you want a decent priced ht. They are all on closeout now.

    Sent from my GT-I9505G using Tapatalk 4
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  38. #38
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    What's the lowest price youve seen on the crave/carve non SS?

  39. #39
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    30% off is usually a Specialized norm on closeout.

    FYI, free lifetime tuneups usually come with 4-7 day wait times. You'll learn quickly that doing your own maintenance is a lot faster.
    Killing it with close inspection.

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    Vassago Verhauen SS
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    Re: Sanity Check - About to buy a hardtail...

    Here is a local place. Specialized Carve Comp 29 - Arizona bike shop - Top Specialized bike dealer - Chandler - Gilbert - Ahwatukee Bike shops

    My wife is probably going to get one. I've been pretty happy with global bikes so far. I brought it in and they worked on it right there for me.
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  42. #42
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    if only i had known about chinese foot-binding 30 years ago, i could be riding 185mm cranks today

  43. #43
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    Done. 2013 Rockhopper pro. 25% off and took the 90 day offer (thanks for the heads up on that fastblack). Now I can stop obsessing and start riding again. Thanks for all of the advice and see you guys on the trails - probably starting with santan in about 10 hours!

  44. #44
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    Congrats on the new bike!
    I'm gonna be hitting up south mountain in the morning. I'm not fast, but wouldnt mind riding with somebody. Usually do the whole desert classic if interested...
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  45. #45
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    Sanity Check - About to buy a hardtail...

    Quote Originally Posted by TBoneAz View Post
    Done. 2013 Rockhopper pro.
    On a FotoFriday? Pics or it didn't happen.

  46. #46
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    This one shows the most un-removed reflectors

    2013 Rockhopper Pro 29er

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    Thanks Man! I am going to take a rain-check on tomorrow, need some getting-to-know you time with the new ride. Ill catch you next time though.
    2013 Rockhopper Pro 29er

  48. #48
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    Sweet bike. If you are interested in protecting the paint on your new ride, there is a guy that installs 3M clear bra out of Berge Mazda in Gilbert. I had him do one of my frames. Cost was reasonable and well worth it. You can also buy kits and do it yourself but he isn't much more and does a much better job.
    Killing it with close inspection.

  49. #49
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    Which store did you go to? 25% off is more than I thought they would do.
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  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by TBoneAz View Post
    This one shows the most un-removed reflectors


    leave em on, let the trails shake them loose

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