1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
mtn. biking 101
2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    2013 Trek Fuel Ex 8 or 2013 Cannondale Scalpel 29 3?

    Looking into getting a new bike. Mostly ride single track, somewhat technical. Both are brand new, both 2k. Opinions?

  2. #2
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    I demoed a Fuel a while ago. Nice bike, but very dependent on having compression damping.

    I haven't ridden a Scalpel. I'd expect it to be racier - that is, it's likely to be easier to ride it up a hill in a straight line, but require more attention to keep it under control on the way down.

    FWIW, I prefer XC bikes.

    What are you riding now? Can you demo?
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  3. #3
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    Than you for your reply.

    I don't actually have a bike right now - switched to riding dirt bikes when I was 15 (28 now), but want to get into mountain biking again.

    In terms of technology/parts, which is better? does one have less parts that need to be upgraded?

    For example, the Trek's tires are not the greatest and some people say the breaks on the Cannondale should be stitched to XOs...

    Any opinion/comparison is greatly appreciated.

    unfortunately no demos for those bikes specifically. my local shop has an EX 7 and one of the employees races a scalpel carbon 1 that i can take out and test...not sure how comparable either of those are

  4. #4
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    If you want to get into XC racing I think the scalpel is a great way to go. That is what is was purpose designed for. 100mm travel, steep head angle, short chain stays.
    The trek would be a better "all around" bike. It has more travel, slacker head angle, etc.

    A lot comes down to personal preference. Do you want SRAM drivetrain or Shimano. Avid brakes or shimano. Lefty fork or Fox.

    I would lean toward the trek because I would want more suspension travel and shimano brakes. I also prefer Treks suspension design and fork (not a lefty fan) to cannondales.

  5. #5
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    I'm not going to go through the spec lists for you. It's boring, and Google's better at it than I am anyway.

    Demoing a different level of the same frame is usually pretty representative, IMO. So getting some saddle time on the bikes that are available to you would certainly be useful.

    The tradeoff, in general, is that bikes like the Fuel make a few small compromises in handling on a climb in order to have a higher speed limit on a descent. A lot of people consider Trail and All Mountain bikes to be the best all-rounders for rec mountain biking right now. From demoing, I think the compromise is pretty minor, but so is the improvement. In other words, it's not as important a decision as some would like it to be.

    The Scalpel will be Cannondale's idea of the bike that can get around a XC race course fastest. Like it or not, it takes longer to climb than descend, so where they have to make a compromise, it'll favor climbing. It may (this is where demoing is important!) also have a quicker handling feel, which goes with being more of a handful on the way down. Fast descenders are still fast on XC bikes, though.

    Since it's been a while, you're taking a bit of a flyer on choosing a class of bike. Lucky for you, your choices in setup make more of a difference.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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