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  1. #1
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    Hardtail Options for Next Year Around 2-2.5k Budget

    Hello everyone, here's the story. I bought a used Trek 3700 to get into riding and have been having a blast so far, but my first beginner trail experience was slightly scary. Speed + a root followed by a six inch drop off had me bouncing to the side of the trail for an emergency stop. I went to a demo yesterday to try other bikes and found out that I really like the higher travel bikes (120-140mm), so now I'm planning my purchase for tax season to be better prepared for next season.

    Myself:
    Location - USA
    Height - 5' 11.5"
    Weight - 240 (hopefully 200-215 by the time of purchase)
    Frame preference - 19-20"
    Expected Riding - Gravel, mud, trails, hopefully growing to advanced trails and pump tracks (very little jumping, no racing)
    Skill level - Low
    Wheel preference - Not 29"

    So far I have demoed the Santa Cruz Chameleon and I tried my buddy's NS Eccentric. I really liked the Chameleon, but I'm skeptical of how long an aluminum frame will last with my weight. The Eccentric was pretty fun, but with it being at the top end of my budget I want to see what else is out there. I love the look of the Cotic BFe (Burly Iron), but that would require sourcing everything and building the bike myself.

    I know that the companies I mentioned have 1 year manufacturer warranties on the frames, but I'm hoping to find a bike that I can grow with for the next few years. Are there any other great options for 26/27.5" hardtails with 120-140mm travel in the $2500 and under price range?

  2. #2
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    Unless you go with something stupid-light, aluminum will generally be fine.

    $2,500 26" hardtails are mostly dead these days, as in not many (if any at all) being made unless it's from the boutique brands.

    Curious why you've ruled put 29" wheels?

    There are several that might fit the bill of what you state to be your preference (other than the size of the hoops). Something like a Canfield Nimble 9 or Yelli Screamy, the new Ibis Tranny 29 w/120mm fork, Diamondback Mason, Niner ROS, Trek Stache, Banshee Paradox, Airborne Goblin EVO, Carver Ti420, and Transition TransAm, to name some of the models that are not your garden variety 29er hardtail XC machine.

    There are more and more 27.5" hardtail offerings being developed and released lately, so I imagine that market will be catching up with 29ers at some point, but I don't think it's quite there yet. I would merely suggest that you keep an open mind, and try some of the offerings mentioned above.

    If you're worried about the wheel strength of 29" wheels vs. smaller wheels, it's simply a non-issue (as is your concern about the durability of aluminum frames), especially for the riding you describe.

  3. #3
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    I did not like the 29ers that I demoed. It would probably be different at speed, but turning the 29ers just wasn't as comfortable. A lot of the local trails have really narrow switchbacks and I'm more comfortable on the 26/27.5s

    You mentioned the diamondbacks which I find interesting. So many people gave me negative attitude when I mentioned diamondback locally because they are a "big box" brand, but I get a killer discount on them. Sadly their 27.5 offerings are minimal, and 100mm travel which I did not like at the demo. If only they offered that 140mm travel on the axis :P

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kirden View Post
    You mentioned the diamondbacks which I find interesting. So many people gave me negative attitude when I mentioned diamondback locally because they are a "big box" brand, but I get a killer discount on them. Sadly their 27.5 offerings are minimal, and 100mm travel which I did not like at the demo. If only they offered that 140mm travel on the axis :P
    Don't worry about what other people think. Just because their business model is different and instead of being strictly LBS, they choose to do LBS & big box retail/wholesale. Most hardtails are intended to be used as XC bikes which popularly use 100mm forks. When you start going up in travel, your choices start to thin out rapidly because you want to stay away from 29er's.
    Bike Doctor



  5. #5
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    If you want a long travel hardtail, this thread is a set of beauties.

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    Those are some nice toys. There are a few nice options for 27.5" frames that I could get shipped to the states, but I'm not sure that someone one season in should be trying to build their own bike. I am slightly partial to the 27.5" but this bike caught my attention last night. Supposedly they do free worldwide shipping but I'm not sure if they will ship a complete bike:

    On-One 456 Evo2 Sram X9 Mountain Bike | On - One

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kirden View Post
    Those are some nice toys. There are a few nice options for 27.5" frames that I could get shipped to the states, but I'm not sure that someone one season in should be trying to build their own bike. I am slightly partial to the 27.5" but this bike caught my attention last night. Supposedly they do free worldwide shipping but I'm not sure if they will ship a complete bike:

    On-One 456 Evo2 Sram X9 Mountain Bike | On - One
    I've looked admiringly at that bike too. Looking at their page, it seems like they would ship it to you for about $100. You might have to pay some customs duties though, I'm not sure. I'd ask the company if you're interested.

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    I just went through as much as I could of their page and it seems that you are correct about the bike shipping. I'll have to check out the customs duties but I know none of the parts I've bought from England cost anything extra, though they also weren't as large as a bike :P

    Sadly the customize option on their site is not working for me, but I would be interested in seeing what options they have for the evo 650b. As long as the shipping fees don't push it out of my price range, the evo2 or possibly the evo 650b and the chameleon are the two front runners at the moment.

    I had also thought about this bike before my phoebia of aluminum bikes came up. However, after research it seems aluminum will be fine so this may be another option and is designed more for the trail/pump track:

    NS Bikes 2014 - Stay True!

  9. #9
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    Did you not like the full suspension bikes? $2500 is maybe a little hard on a retail long-travel FS, but it's enough for a good trail bike or if you leverage your discount.

    The first thing I did after I rode a full-suspension and liked it was find out what I have a line on and get a hold of one to demo. I really love my shiny new bike. Given what I was comfortable spending, I was going to have to like the Specialized Camber Comp 29 hundreds of dollars better than the Kona Hei Hei Deluxe, which retails for more. This was last year, so the '13 models - Kona has changed things up some, and I don't think I'd have been able to stomach "my" price on the current Hei Hei DL.

    So in your shoes, I think I'd be looking a little more closely at some of the Diamondback offerings that touch on the specific thing you're looking for right now - maybe the Mason, Mason FS, and Mission FS, and it looks like the Sortie has gotten a bit taller too. Maybe one of those bikes will really sell itself to you if you give it a shot.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    I did take a look at the diamondback offerings, but I'm really trying to stay away from the 29er hardtails so that knocks out the Mason which is their only hardtail with more than 100mm travel. If I go with a full suspension I can get a Mission 2.0 for 1750. Have to love the discount but I have not tried out any FS bikes yet. I'm looking for a bike that will last for a while without too much major maintenance and the extra moving parts seems like I would be asking for trouble.

    However, may be worth checking into since I can get their top of the line Mission Pro 27.5" for a little over 3k

  11. #11
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    Demo some full suspension bikes.

    And demo more 29ers.

    I think it may be harder for me to turn mine in a tight circle with my ass planted. But when I'm out of the saddle, I can't say it makes much of a difference.

    Leaning into an uphill switchback is certainly an odd feeling...

    On giving your first post a marginally closer read, pump tracks really call for a little different style of bike. Not that one can't get a Big Bike around them. But there's a reason people have dirt jump bikes.

    It's good that you already have a bike. The first bike's really the hardest. Now you have time to demo lots of different things and really inform yourself - it's not like you're going to lose chunks of the best part of the season waiting. So really, no reason to try to make a decision now. Try to ride all the different bikes you can, and figure it out next winter.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  12. #12
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    $2500 budget next year, look for 2014 closeouts. You can get super awesome deals. I got a $3000 bike for $1700 a few weeks ago. It was a 2013 closeout. Just a thought. Of course brands/models/sizes are hit or miss.
    Jamis Renegade Elite
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    AndrwSwitch, that's the one thing that has me so torn about the NS Clash 1. Geo wise is is closer to a dirt jump bike than any of the others, but it still has decent seat positioning for trail riding. Next year I will be moving in between Nashville and the Kentucky line so I'm hoping to find a pump track and better trails/singletracks than these Georgia swamp trails I have now.

    I could split the budget and grab a DB 2nd Assault and Mission 1.0 27.5". Best of both worlds? :P

  14. #14
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    Here is another bike comparible to the NS Clash 1:

    Instigator 2.0 | Bikes | Surly Bikes

    I found a dealer in Nashville that is a Surly partner so if I haven't decided by the end of the season I will grab one to test/rent when I go up to look for a house. It looks good to m, but the odd tire size makes me think the Clash will be the better bike of the two. So far these are the only two that I could see for trails and pump tracks equally in sub 29" tires.

    I am going to check in with a Kona/Santa Cruz/Cannondale demo Tuesday so I'll try a few 29ers, but I'm not sure I'm getting a real feel for them in a parking lot demo track.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kirden View Post
    I did not like the 29ers that I demoed. It would probably be different at speed, but turning the 29ers just wasn't as comfortable. A lot of the local trails have really narrow switchbacks and I'm more comfortable on the 26/27.5s
    Find something with better geometry.
    Many of the trails around here are tight, twisty with lots of switchbacks and the majority of riders here ride 29ers. I wouldn't rule them out yet, you probably just have not been on the right one.

    My Spot Brand Honey Badger is incredibly nimble. It has 100mm of travel which I find to be enough but if you are set on more, check out the Kona Honzo with 120mm.
    Both have steel frames which do a lot for comfort on a hard tail.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kirden View Post

    You mentioned the diamondbacks which I find interesting. So many people gave me negative attitude when I mentioned diamondback locally because they are a "big box" brand, but I get a killer discount on them. Sadly their 27.5 offerings are minimal, and 100mm travel which I did not like at the demo. If only they offered that 140mm travel on the axis :P
    I had a DB Overdrive as my first bike. It was an awful piece of sh!t.
    I can't speak for other DB's but mine was horrible.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  16. #16
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    Hardtail Options for Next Year Around 2-2.5k Budget

    Quote Originally Posted by Nubster View Post
    $2500 budget next year, look for 2014 closeouts. You can get super awesome deals. I got a $3000 bike for $1700 a few weeks ago. It was a 2013 closeout. Just a thought. Of course brands/models/sizes are hit or miss.
    Also look at demo-bikes. I got mine at a significant discount and it's in great shape with a few scratches on it. Now I don't have to worry about being the first to get a scratch. I was able to get into a carbon fiber this way 👍


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Carbon fiber sounds scary. I know Foundry makes carbon frames with 10 year warranties, but something about being 240lbs flying down a hill on a 2lb tooth pick doesn't seem like a good idea :P

    I'm willing to try out other 29ers, but I don't see me buying one. The roll over factor seems nice, but I won't be rolling over much on pump tracks and I'm not sure how a 29er would perform in that environment.

    I'm just looking for the best possible bike in my price range for a combination of singletrack and pump track. So far the clash 1 and chameleon are at the top of the list, but do any of you know of bikes with similar geo? Sadly there aren't any NS dealers near me so I can't demo one, but I'll get back on a chameleon Tuesday at the pump track demo.

    Santa Cruz Chameleon

    NS Bikes 2014 - Stay True!

  18. #18
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    Re: Hardtail Options for Next Year Around 2-2.5k Budget

    Quote Originally Posted by Kirden View Post
    AndrwSwitch, that's the one thing that has me so torn about the NS Clash 1. Geo wise is is closer to a dirt jump bike than any of the others, but it still has decent seat positioning for trail riding. Next year I will be moving in between Nashville and the Kentucky line so I'm hoping to find a pump track and better trails/singletracks than these Georgia swamp trails I have now.

    I could split the budget and grab a DB 2nd Assault and Mission 1.0 27.5". Best of both worlds? :P
    Don't buy anything until after you move.

    Even with your discount, I bet you see a big drop in value the minute you buy a new bike. They're terrible assets, and it drives me nuts to see people use that language to describe them. About the only way I can see them making financial sense is as commuters or if you start throwing a bunch of intangibles at it, which I find suspect. For me, the value in my bikes is in the joy I get from riding them. Much as I hate to admit it, probably even my commuter - I could always walk or ride the bus.

    So if the money you put into a new bike is just gone, how long do you need to ride it to be comfortable with that? Ten seasons? Five? One? (Seems to be about five for bikes I buy to ride athletically, two for commuters that I'm trying to keep cheap.)

    See where you're at after you move. You don't have to speculate or hope about the kind of riding you'll do. For all you know now, your trail access might even be worse. Maybe you'll want a road bike.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Good advice as always AndrwSwitch. + rep for you. Until I get a chance to be on the intended trails and parks there is no way to know which of these bikes will be best for the new area.

    Next month I will know exactly where the new building will be for work so that will determine where I end up moving in a year. I've been looking at trails between Nashville and Bowling Green and there seems to be a lot of diversity. I thought buying the first bike was supposed to be the hard part

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kirden View Post
    Carbon fiber sounds scary.
    Carbon fiber is very rigid which is a property that I personally would not want in a hard tail mountain bike. I think it is great for a full suspension where you want the suspension to do the work but in a hard tail I feel that steal or titanium are better choices for comfort and compliancy. Aluminum isn't so bad but after riding a steal hard tail I will not buy any other material unless I can afford titanium.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kirden View Post
    I thought buying the first bike was supposed to be the hard part
    The first bike is the easier part. That is the bike that gets you out and riding so you can find out exactly what you like for yourself. Then, you save up for the 2nd bike, which is much more likely to be 'the one' you will live with for a while (provided you do your due diligence and get the bike that suits you.

    Trying to buy a first bike that will be 'the bike', is like expecting to marry your first girlfriend. You chances of getting it that right with the first is not very good. The same goes for your first bike.

    Andrew touched on a good point. Since you're moving in a year, maybe you could get something used and cheap that will get you around for the time being. When it comes time to move, you could probably sell it for around what you paid, and then get something that suits you for the new area you'll be riding. Then again, if budget is not really an issue, then knock yourself out and get what you want for the time you have where you are, and worry about next year. . . . . well. . . . next year.

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    Yea, I listened to AndrwSwitch a few weeks back and picked up a used Trek from my LBS. That is what lead me to posting this because I have already found some flaws in the Trek, but it is good enough to carry me through the season barring any crazy tumbles or moving trees.

    After my first downhill + root + six inch drop going at pretty good speed, I realized that the low travel RST fork on the Trek was not working for me. I went out and demoed a haro 27.5 with a rockshox fork and almost fell in love, but the fork would almost bottom out on six+ inch drop offs (I'm 240lbs so that didn't help) so I tried demoed a Santa Cruz Chameleon with a higher travel fork. I then tried a specialized 29er with a fox fork, and hated trying to manuever it around the demo track. It felt awkward on switchbacks and the front was really heavy compared to the other bikes. That was my only test on a 29er.

    In retrospect, if I had been allowed to adjust the air pressure in the Haro fork I probably would not have been that close to bottoming out.

  23. #23
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    I mean no offense when I say this but if you are bottoming out a fork on a 6" drop there is a good chance that you are lacking certain skills and expecting that equipment will make up for that. I am not bottoming out 100mm on my hard tail off 2' drops.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

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    The Trek RST fork is a 63mm travel fork and the Haro RockShox 100mm was not adjusted for my weight. There is a great possibility that I may not bottom out 100mm forks if they are adjusted properly, but at 240lbs and a low skill level, the fork didn't feel right. This was during a demo and I was not given the chance to adjust the fork.

    It is possible that the chameleon was set up better for my weight and that could be why the higher travel fork felt better, I'm not sure. The main purpose is to find something that I can grow with. No offense taken toward the statement about lacking skills because, as I said in my first post, that was my first beginner trail experience.

    That said I do know that I like higher travel air forks and didn't have a problem on the drops with those. Again, it may have just been set up better for me.

  25. #25
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    Re: Hardtail Options for Next Year Around 2-2.5k Budget

    Setup is huge. That's one of the things I really dislike about cheap coil forks, actually - for me, the spring rates are always too stiff, for you, they're probably always too soft, and for the guys who happen to weigh the right amount to use all the travel and not bottom harshly, they still flex in torque and bending, and maybe they pogo. I'd rather have a rigid fork.

    I actually had an RST when I came back to MTB. A Capa, I think? Not that it really matters. I found I had a lot of trouble holding a line over roots. I thought it was just me being rusty, but when circumstances led me to put something else on the front of the bike, I found I was miraculously a lot better. Riding I've done on rigid MTBs and my 'cross bike since then is part of what's led me to my "I'd rather ride rigid than RST" attitude. I figure if I'm going to add weight, complication, and, usually, money to my bike, it had better be an improvement over what I had before.

    I tune my 100 mm fork based on bottoming, actually. I look for the little o-ring to go to the top of the stanchion on a typical ride, but I don't want to feel the fork bottoming out. I can certainly imagine enjoying something that gives a plusher ride, but if I run my fork softer, I bottom out and it doesn't really improve control anymore to have that happen. So it's too bad you couldn't tune the Haro, at least to the fairly rough level of matching the pressure (assuming an air fork) to RS's recommendation printed on the lower. You'd probably feel differently about it.

    I think you should get a few more miles on the Trek. Maybe a month, give or take, and work on learning to manual. Then decide if you want to live with it for the rest of the season, if you want to cut your losses, or if you want to double down (sort of, it won't really cost as much as your purchase in the first place) on a different fork for it. A nice thing about used bikes is that you can resell them and get your money back out. Kind of like no-fault divorce.

    I felt locked in once I'd thrown a few parts at my Hardrock, although it did have the advantage that nothing cost as much as a new bike. Getting a new bike that's purpose-built for what I want and nicely spec'd right out of the box has been really nice, though, now that I'm in a place in my life where I can afford it.

    So a few things to think about. But given where you're at today, I think you might wait at least a month, ride everything you can find on your Trek, hit another demo day if a tour rolls through, and see where you're at then.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    I plan on hitting the LBS demo Tuesday. Not many tours roll through the area so all of the somewhat local LBSs are pushing their current model and last year bikes and running demos for their shops. It'ts pretty much a demo every month for the next three months and there are a veriety of brands so I'm still open. I doubt I will go back to the shop downtown since they will not let you adjust anything other than seat height during the demo.

    I plan to hold off on getting a new bike until next year but hope to find something I love soon so that I can catch the 2014 fire sale once all of the new models come out.

    My fork is a RST 191. It has no lock out and a pretty sloppy spring. I had thought about upgrading the fork, but I would rather wait until I find a different bike and then I may turn the Trek into a commuter or spare. At least as a commuter I would have a use for the bar ends that came with it :P

    The chameleon O ring would stop about 10mm from the top on 8-12" drops. Honestly it could have been stiffer and I still wouldn't have had any trouble. Bottoming out the 100mm fork on the 12" drop almost threw me over the handlebar, but once I learn to manual and not just lift the front tire before the drop I should be in better shape.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjlued View Post
    Carbon fiber is very rigid which is a property that I personally would not want in a hard tail mountain bike.
    Not so anymore.
    Check out the top end road bikes. Carbon and zero suspension front or rear. Excellent pedaling stiffness with outstanding compliance for comfort. It is the major upselling feature for all the major manufacturers.
    Trek has brought that road frame development into their Superfly 9.6-9.8 bikes as well as last year's SF 9.9 SL Apollo Project bikes. I'm on a 9.8 an it is exceptional. Lifetime warranty. The geo is new- very quick turning and stable going downhill.
    Pivot has compliance in the Les 29/27.5 hard tail models.
    Add 30mm interior dim wheels for added volume for more suspension effect. It's like I'm riding a 21lb. fs bike.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjlued View Post
    Carbon fiber is very rigid which is a property that I personally would not want in a hard tail mountain bike. I think it is great for a full suspension where you want the suspension to do the work but in a hard tail I feel that steal or titanium are better choices for comfort and compliancy. Aluminum isn't so bad but after riding a steal hard tail I will not buy any other material unless I can afford titanium.
    My new carbon frame beats me up way less than my aluminum frame. Steel was the best ride I've had but riding a 29 pound bike compared to my new 23 pound bike...I'll take the slightly less compliance over the pig of a bike I had.
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  29. #29
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    Re: Hardtail Options for Next Year Around 2-2.5k Budget

    These materials discussions drive me a little nuts. I don't work with carbon fiber, which is just as well, but my study included composites. Carbon fiber reinforced plastic is very strong and stuff along the direction of the fibers. It's only as strong and stiff as the plastic in other directions. That means the designer has an incredible degree of control over how a bike responds to loads. Trek's latest bikes are supposed to do a good job exploiting this, though I haven't tried one of the carbon models with engineered compliance. The Cannondale Scalpel did something similar, with its pivotless chainstays.

    So it's even harder to say something general about carbon frames than the other common materials. They'll ride how they were designed to ride, within an even bigger envelope than, say, steel, which already has a bigger envelope than aluminum.

    OP, I'm not sure if we're talking about the same thing when we talk about demos. For me, it's an event in which a manufacturer sets up a trailer at a popular trailhead or alongside some other event, and I can try their bikes for half an hour or an hour. I fill out some paperwork and they swap my pedals onto their bike and (to varying degrees) set up the suspension and usually tires for me. Then I let 'er rip for the time they said I could borrow the bike. When they're reasonably smart about the location and not too busy to send their bikes out for an hour at a time, that means I get to ride one of their high-end bikes on trails that are representative of what I ride. Probably one of "my" riding spots, in fact, since I don't usually travel for these things.

    Is that what you've been doing?
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nubster View Post
    My new carbon frame beats me up way less than my aluminum frame. Steel was the best ride I've had but riding a 29 pound bike compared to my new 23 pound bike...I'll take the slightly less compliance over the pig of a bike I had.
    6 lbs difference?

    I would bet about 4 of those pounds are in lighter components vs the actual frame itself.
    Also the fact that the bike has better and lighter components especially if that weight is in the rotational mass probably makes the bike feel more like less of a pig than the actual weight difference. I would bet if you took two frames with the same geometry but one was steel and the other was carbon fiber and they had the exact same components you probably wouldn't notice the weight while riding but would notice a difference in the ride quality.

    Not saying weight doesn't make a difference but there are much more important places to save weight than the frame.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kjlued View Post
    I would bet if you took two frames with the same geometry but one was steel and the other was carbon fiber and they had the exact same components you probably wouldn't notice the weight while riding but would notice a difference in the ride quality.
    You can take two carbon frames with the same weight, geo and components and one can be super stiff and one compliant. The material allows a very wide design range. The Superfly 9.8 I ride is compliant. Last year's carbon Superfly was stiff as a board. The 9.8 geo is new and steers perfect for me. So every carbon hardtail can be a completely different experience. You have to ride it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    These materials discussions drive me a little nuts. I don't work with carbon fiber, which is just as well, but my study included composites. Carbon fiber reinforced plastic is very strong and stuff along the direction of the fibers. It's only as strong and stiff as the plastic in other directions. That means the designer has an incredible degree of control over how a bike responds to loads. Trek's latest bikes are supposed to do a good job exploiting this, though I haven't tried one of the carbon models with engineered compliance. The Cannondale Scalpel did something similar, with its pivotless chainstays.

    So it's even harder to say something general about carbon frames than the other common materials. They'll ride how they were designed to ride, within an even bigger envelope than, say, steel, which already has a bigger envelope than aluminum.

    OP, I'm not sure if we're talking about the same thing when we talk about demos. For me, it's an event in which a manufacturer sets up a trailer at a popular trailhead or alongside some other event, and I can try their bikes for half an hour or an hour. I fill out some paperwork and they swap my pedals onto their bike and (to varying degrees) set up the suspension and usually tires for me. Then I let 'er rip for the time they said I could borrow the bike. When they're reasonably smart about the location and not too busy to send their bikes out for an hour at a time, that means I get to ride one of their high-end bikes on trails that are representative of what I ride. Probably one of "my" riding spots, in fact, since I don't usually travel for these things.

    Is that what you've been doing?
    My demos are a bit different. They are being marketed as demos by the LBSs. These guys pick 5-10 bikes out of their stock, set up a track on either an empty lot, parking lot, or field and you get to test the bike for fifteen to thirty minutes unless they aren't that busy. You can test as many bikes as long as the sign up makes it to you for that bike before the event ends.

    As far as materials, I really prefer steel or aluminum. I get that carbon can be made stronger and can be amazing, but shaving a few onces off of the total weight (maybe a few pounds) isn't worth the extra cost for me. If I ever start racing I'll get back to you :P

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    For some manufacturers carbon is about weight. But really it can also be about ride if the manufacturer puts the R&D into the bike. More bike buyers are interested in ride than a one dimension 'race' bike, especially if you can have both. They have seen that with road bike sales, mt bikes are next.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    You can take two carbon frames with the same weight, geo and components and one can be super stiff and one compliant. The material allows a very wide design range. The Superfly 9.8 I ride is compliant. Last year's carbon Superfly was stiff as a board. The 9.8 geo is new and steers perfect for me. So every carbon hardtail can be a completely different experience. You have to ride it.
    I understood and got that part already.

    Anyways, since he is looking at bikes in the $2k-$2.5k range it leaves the Superfly 9.8 which is almost $4k out of the running. I am going to guess it will leave most high tech carbon bikes with compliant frames out of the running though where most steel frames will be right in there.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

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    The 9.6 has the same frame and a good component mix at 2500 list 2100 with a good discount. But it is a 29 and not really a pump track bike, so broad but not everything.

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    Sound like pretty lame demo days. Ask around and check out your regional forum here. Maybe there'd be a bit of a drive, but going to a demo day on actual trails is really informative. Also, getting to know your local riding community is its own reward.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    If I was really into pump track riding, but still wanted to ride an MTB on trails, I don't think I could compromise the MTB bike that much to make it also good for pump track riding. You likely end up with a significant compromise for both disciplines. You could snag a cheap rigid bike, or a dirt jumper (like a Giant STP, Specialized P1, or Haro Steel Reserve) for pump track work. Pump track bikes don't require much in the way of sophistication or expensive parts to be a good pump track bike. Then get what you want (without the pump track being in the equation) and need for a proper mountain bike that works well for you on the trails you ride.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffj View Post
    If I was really into pump track riding, but still wanted to ride an MTB on trails, I don't think I could compromise the MTB bike that much to make it also good for pump track riding. You likely end up with a significant compromise for both disciplines. You could snag a cheap rigid bike, or a dirt jumper (like a Giant STP, Specialized P1, or Haro Steel Reserve) for pump track work. Pump track bikes don't require much in the way of sophistication or expensive parts to be a good pump track bike. Then get what you want (without the pump track being in the equation) and need for a proper mountain bike that works well for you on the trails you ride.
    This is just the latest in a ton of good advice given so far (speaking of, as far as the gf comparison, keep in mind that with bikes, you don't have to get rid of one to get another )

    Buy your trail bike for the trails and the way you like to ride them, and pick up something more specific for pump and jump type stuff. Personally, I love a 20" for it. Lot of fun for short $$ IME.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjlued View Post
    6 lbs difference?

    I would bet about 4 of those pounds are in lighter components vs the actual frame itself.
    Also the fact that the bike has better and lighter components especially if that weight is in the rotational mass probably makes the bike feel more like less of a pig than the actual weight difference. I would bet if you took two frames with the same geometry but one was steel and the other was carbon fiber and they had the exact same components you probably wouldn't notice the weight while riding but would notice a difference in the ride quality.

    Not saying weight doesn't make a difference but there are much more important places to save weight than the frame.
    Nope. The steel frame was 6.6 pounds, carbon fork, single speed. New bike is a lefty fork, carbon frame, 2x10 drive train. I guarantee the weight savings is in the frame considering it weighs 1200g (2.6 pounds). So there is 4 pounds of weight savings in the frame.

    But that's not the point of my last post. The point was, my carbon frame bike rides better than the last three aluminum frame bikes I've had. Same is true with my road bike. My carbon road bike rides better than the previous three aluminum road bikes I had. The steel frame bike I just got rid of, despite being a heavy ass bike, rode smooth as butta.

    So the jest of the story is steel>carbon (when done right)>aluminum for ride quality which goes against what you are saying about carbon being very rigid and not being a good material for a hardtail which is a falsity.
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    I just wanted to thank everyone for their input so far. I may have found a great option so I will be trying to find a Kona Explosif to rent while I'm on vacation:

    KONA BIKES | 2014 BIKES | TRAIL 27.5" HT | EXPLOSIF

    The components seems to be really good, except that I haven't heard much about the fork. RockShox Recon Gold RL 120mm. All of the gearing and brake components are Shimano SLX/XT, Deore Hub and freewheel, all on a chromo frame with 27.5" tires.

    Unless I can find a 29er that blows me away, the Santa Cruz Bantam sells me on FS, or there is some private steel frame bike builder in my price range, the Explosif looks like a great bike to grow with and continue to build my skills on.
    Last edited by Kirden; 07-06-2014 at 03:38 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nubster View Post
    Nope. The steel frame was 6.6 pounds, carbon fork, single speed. New bike is a lefty fork, carbon frame, 2x10 drive train. I guarantee the weight savings is in the frame considering it weighs 1200g (2.6 pounds). So there is 4 pounds of weight savings in the frame.
    Go back and reread what I said.
    Same frames with same geometry.
    You are comparing apples and oranges.

    6.6 lbs is on the heavy side of a steel frame and 29lbs for a steel bike single speed with carbon fork is heavy as hell which tells me you had some heavy ass components too.
    I think mine comes in at around 25 lbs which makes it no lightweight. It has a suspension fork and it has the Gates Carbon Drive which is heavier than most chain drive systems (steel gears and larger too).
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kirden View Post
    I just wanted to thank everyone for their input so far. I may have found a great option so I will be trying to find a Kona Explosif to rent while I'm on vacation:

    KONA BIKES | 2014 BIKES | TRAIL 27.5" HT | EXPLOSIF

    The components seems to be really good, except that I haven't heard much about the fork. RockShox Recon Gold RL 120mm. All of the gearing and brake components are Shimano SLX/XT, Deore Hub and freewheel, all on a chromo frame with 27.5" tires.

    Unless I can find a 29er that blows me away, the Santa Cruz Bantam sells me on FS, or there is some private steel frame bike builder in my price range, the Explosif looks like a great bike to grow with and continue to build my skills on.
    Nice bike and the Recon is decent fork and pretty bulletproof.
    It is basically the 650b version of the Honzo I recommended earlier so even though you said you didn't like 29ers try and check it out too if you can.

    Here is a review of the bike.
    Kona Explosif 27.5 | Mountain Bike Reviews
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

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    My honzo pumps great, and is down right ripper on trails descend better than a ton of trail bikes then climbs up faster.


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    Thanks for that video bushwackerin. That looks like a blast. I contacted the shop in Atlanta to scheduled a rental for the explosif during my vacation. They also have a few honzos so I may be able to swap half way through the week to check out both bikes. I'll be up in north Georgia for two weeks at the end of this month so it should be fun riding around the "mountains" :P

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    I am 100 percent sold on 650 b wheel for 5 inch pus bikes + but having ridden 26 inch custom long travel Single speed, and explosif and a couple honzo. The honzo is just a better trail bike.

    I really wanted to like the Explosif just to try something new but I think for an all mountain hardtail bikes like the Honzo(Nimble 9, yelly, mason, elect...) really make it hard to like the smaller wheel bikes.

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    Just wondering, what size bike did you start on or did you begin cycling as a kid? I've had a hard time explaining how a 29er feels when I'm riding it, but it's kinda like going from a modern power steering car to my old 74 datsun. It's just not as responsive to me and I think that is what makes me dislike them.

    The last bike I rode before my 26" Trek was a 20" BMX bike eleven years ago (when I was 15) so I'm really not used to sitting up so high on a mountain bike to begin with. Then pair that with even taller tires and the noob death grip and you have the youtube sensation that depicts me.

    However, I do plan on trying more 29ers and just lowering the seat position till I get more comfortable with weight distribution and mountain bike geometry. I have lowered the seat on my Trek to be almost level with my handle bars and feel a little more stable compared to sitting over the bars. Sadly, eleven years of sitting on a couch doesn't prepare you for sitting on a mountain bike...

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    Hardtail Options for Next Year Around 2-2.5k Budget

    Quote Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post
    My honzo pumps great, and is down right ripper on trails descend better than a ton of trail bikes then climbs up faster.

    Very appropriate post to help say 29 in wheel size does not mean an XC racer or dump truck.

    Honzo and Taro are probably the easiest to find at retailers and great values but there are more and super cool bikes in that category.

    Seems to me the OP needs more time trying different bikes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kirden View Post
    Just wondering, what size bike did you start on or did you begin cycling as a kid? I've had a hard time explaining how a 29er feels when I'm riding it, but it's kinda like going from a modern power steering car to my old 74 datsun. It's just not as responsive to me and I think that is what makes me dislike them.

    The last bike I rode before my 26" Trek was a 20" BMX bike eleven years ago (when I was 15) so I'm really not used to sitting up so high on a mountain bike to begin with. Then pair that with even taller tires and the noob death grip and you have the youtube sensation that depicts me.

    However, I do plan on trying more 29ers and just lowering the seat position till I get more comfortable with weight distribution and mountain bike geometry. I have lowered the seat on my Trek to be almost level with my handle bars and feel a little more stable compared to sitting over the bars. Sadly, eleven years of sitting on a couch doesn't prepare you for sitting on a mountain bike...
    I am 30 I have been riding competitively off an on for 21 years...

    was an expert class BMX racer by the time I was 11. started riding mountain bikes at 21 been a slower CAt 1 racer for couple years now. Way to heavy at 200lb to be truly fast.

    does a DJ pump better than my Honzo? sure no doubt about it but is the Dirt Jumper going to ride on 20 mile trail ride with out totally crushing my soul. Probably not. I can ride my Honzo as long my legs propell it.

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    The more I look at it, the more I can't justify buying a dirt jump bike. I like pump tracks, but it isn't a common thing where I live and all of the bike/skate parks have basicly been shut down. There is one track I know of locally and I may have a chance to go there 1-2 times a month, where I can ride singletrack and around the neighborhood four days a week. Even after I move there will be plenty of opportunities for singletrack and possibly commuting, but there are only two "bike tracks" advertised for the pump/bmx scene.

    The main reason I brought up pump tracks is that I enjoy it enough to build my own after I move, but until it's built, I will get more use out of a trail ready bike.

    I really won't know more about the explosif or honzo until I get to ride them, but if anyone has any other recommendations that are comparible to these bikes please let me know. I'm up to try any of them once and have another four to five months to fall in love with something before the big fire sales begin.

  50. #50
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    I would say the Chameleon would be the best option for you because you hate 29ers and you are used to the smaller wheels.
    I have ridden both 26" and 29" wheeled bikes and I would say that the 29" is better in every way but for tight switchbacks. It rolls better, it maintains speed better, and it is just more fun. Give 29" another try.
    Trek Stache, Niner ROS 9, Transition Trans Am are good options.

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    The Honzo is a true do anything bike and there are a few others out there I fit in that category such as my Honey Badger. Whatever the terrain is, it just don't care. It climbs like a billy goat and rips down single track.

    BTW, I live in Western NC so the bike sees mostly places like Pisgah and DuPont.
    I also have a full suspension bike but the HB gets ridden more.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

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    Re: Hardtail Options for Next Year Around 2-2.5k Budget

    I started riding as a kid, like everyone else. But I started MTB at 18, with a 26" hardtail. Same as everyone else at the time. My current 'B' mountain bike is a Hardrock I bought in 2007, so a 26" hardtail. I didn't get to start putting in a lot of volume again (rode a lot in college) until the Fall of 2008. But I think I had some pretty formed expectations of how a bike should handle before I ever rode a 29er.

    I've been underwhelmed by a lot of full suspension bikes, but I was pretty impressed the first time I rode a 29"-wheeled hardtail. It wasn't necessarily a fair comparison - I think it was a Santa Cruz Highball, at a demo day, so a much fancier bike than my Hardrock, even if I had already upgradeitised it. That pretty much killed the idea I had of buying a fancy carbon hardtail frame to transfer the build of the Hardrock onto. It just felt supernaturally smooth, and maybe a little more consistent about traction.

    I'm sympathetic to the idea that 29ers aren't as flickable. Actually, I like that. The Specialized Camber 29 is the bike that got me to take FS seriously again. Riding from the demo tents to the trailhead, I was more conscious of countersteering. But on the trails, it reminded me of stepping up to bigger, stiffer skis. Planted and carvy, and even more smoother-er than the hardtails I'd ridden. Also, I could pedal through stuff that was too rough on my 26" hardtail. So I asked about price with a little more interest than often when I returned it - I don't really care what bikes I don't like cost. When I saw that I'd actually also PR'd the trails on the loop I rode, I had to have one. Part of my thought process before was that I was thinking about racing less and getting a bike that would be more fun at my current riding spot. But to have that demo bike actually be faster (or at least not slower, I know it wasn't a scientific test) removed any conflict - I could get a bike that was better at everything. Awesome.

    I think the timing of when I moved to 29" FS is maybe kind of important, though. I love the way it rides, but if I can't handle a trail, it's a much more awkward bike to be on when I'm getting hung up on things, trying to put a foot down, trying to get back onto a line after understeering, etc. So maybe it would have a steeper learning curve? I don't know. I do think a little bigger in how I ride now - more about line selection, less about each and every rock and root.

    I still ride my Hardrock a couple times a month, and they're really both mountain biking. I might even be a little better on the Hardrock now that I've got saddle time on my shiny new bike. It's also an enormous pain in the ass to transport. It's taller, longer, and was wider until I stuck some even more ridiculous bars on the Hardrock. If I didn't owe the Feds so much for my degree, I'd probably get a rack for the outside of my car, which I never needed for more modestly sized bikes.

    I've taken my 'cross bike on a few of the same trails too. That's kind of a kick. But it takes a ton of attention, and it's definitely slower and harsher. Go figure.

    So I dunno, I don't think being comfortable on a smaller wheel size really makes it harder to change to a bigger wheel size. I don't think it's really that big a deal. More at the "it's subtle but it's there" level.

    Getting tire pressure right is really important to me. Having my bikes fit my body is really important to me. (Incidentally, as a starting point, I think mountain bikers should put their bars level with their saddles - try raising yours and see if that helps on your Trek.) Having my bike not be broken is crucial. The rest is details - this isn't a decision that will have some massive impact on your cycling future if you get something that's not a perfect fit for where you end up going with it later. Though a good match is nice.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Awesome story AndrwSwitch. My saddle now sits level with the middle of the bar, so about half an inch below level with the bar. I found that to be much easier to control mainly because I looked down the trail more instead of at my front wheel. All of the bikes I have riden have had high saddle positions because according to the bend in my knee, I end up at about 2" over the bars.

    That is the main reason I want to find a bike with a local dealer. I think that if I can find a decent bike and have it fit me I will end up falling for it, no matter what type of bike it is.

    Sadly I became biased towards smaller wheels very early on, and it's probably due to a horrible fit on the 29er or some other crazy logic, so I am willing to try any recommendations and will try to have the bike adjusted as close as I possibly can while testing it. After all, I'm probably too new to the sport to hold any particular bias and have a good reason behind it.

    That honey badger looks nice and may be in the price range once the fire sales hit toward the end of the year. River Bikes has them marked at $2700 atm for the geared set since I'm not ready for SS :P

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    If you have average proportions and your saddle always ends up a lot higher than your bars, try some bikes the next size up too.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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