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  1. #1
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    Swapping from one Hardtail to another really makes much difference?

    My only current bike is a 2012 Focus Black Forest 4.0. It is a 26in XC mountain bike that I picked up for a killer deal a few years ago. Its got a 3x10 drivetrain, 30mm coil fork, QR axles with dropouts, and pretty decent hydraulic brakes. I haven't been able to find any info on what the actual geometry is so far.

    Bicyclebluebook says that its worth ~$300-400.



    I've been trying to get into mountain biking lately, and like most people, have more hobbies and life goals than I do money.

    My work will reimburse us up to $800 a year in "fitness related expenses", which for the purposes of this conversation, mean I can buy a bike, or bike parts. Sadly, I spent most of that budget already this year, so I'll have to wait until Jan 1 to have my "new money".

    I've obviously been thinking about how to best use this benefit to my advantage.


    1. Buy a more "trail worthy" hardtail like a Diamondback Sync'r(get the corp discount, and its basically $800) or similar, pay close to nothing out of pocket, and profit.
      1. At least I'd get to see what all the fuss is about the new geometry/thru axles/air suspension before I drop serious coin.
      2. Its obviously the least risky option.

    2. Buy a plus hardtail (DB Mason 2, Trek Roscoe, etc), maybe sell my current bike, and either pay a few hundred out of pocket, or break even.
      1. Is a plus hardtail worth the few hundred over a normal "non plus" hardtail?

    3. Buy something like a Diamondback Release/YT Jeffsey (high value brand, entry level full suspension that doesn't suck), and get a $800 "discount".
      1. A lot more cash outlay for a sport I'm still testing out.


    Are options 1/2 enough "different" from my current bike to really notice/care? Is it worth my time to replace my current hardtail, or should I just jump straight to a full squish?

    Thanks .

  2. #2
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    Hard to go against the Syncr free bike option but none of your options sound like bad outcomes to me.

    Many years ago I got my first FS bike. It was single best improvement for me. Even better than vbrakes to hydraulic.

    You can't go wrong with a good free bike. You can't go wrong with a good FS bike.

    I know nothing about Plus but many on here live plus tires on a HT.

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  3. #3
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    Bike choice depends on the trails you'll ride. If you have lots of vertical with rocky, techy segments a fs can be useful. The Jeffsy would handle a lot. Check with the shops in your area for demo days. You can try different bikes and components on trail for free.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjsb View Post
    Hard to go against the Syncr free bike option but none of your options sound like bad outcomes to me.

    Many years ago I got my first FS bike. It was single best improvement for me. Even better than vbrakes to hydraulic.

    You can't go wrong with a good free bike. You can't go wrong with a good FS bike.

    I know nothing about Plus but many on here live plus tires on a HT.

    Its true, a free decent HT seems pretty hard to screw up. Thats half the issue.

    And plus tires on a HT seem like "poor mans suspension", plus more corner grip/etc. Seems like the ideal situation for plus tires.

    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    Bike choice depends on the trails you'll ride. If you have lots of vertical with rocky, techy segments a fs can be useful. The Jeffsy would handle a lot. Check with the shops in your area for demo days. You can try different bikes and components on trail for free.
    I should also mention that I'm maybe a beginning/intermediate rider. I grew up riding dirt bikes, and my BMX bike around the neighborhood. My crowning acheivements of bike skill were that on an older bike, I could ride a wheelie for a city block or two, and bunnyhop maybe 6-10in. I don't think I've ever track-standed for more than 30 seconds at a time, and can't manual to save my life atm.

    I feel pretty confident of my bike control in most situations, but I'm completely new to being in the air, so jumps aremy weak spot. My favorite trails so far have been green/blue.

    I'm in the greater Seattle/western washington area. I've not been to most of the trail systems around here yet, but that puts me within driving distance to places like Duthie, Tiger mountain, Raging River, as well as other places closer to me.

    The only demo day I'm aware of in my area (so far anyway), is the Duthie bike fair, which isn't until mid June IIRC. So thats an option, I'm just not sure I can be this curious for that long :P.

  5. #5
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    Given where you live you'd enjoy a FS bike.

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  6. #6
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    You will almost certainly notice a difference in your riding just going to the air fork and increased travel of the Sync'r. Assuming it's a 2018. It also has other bits that are upgraded over your current bike, including updated geometry.

    A full suspension bike will be more noticeable still. But if you are still deciding how much you enjoy or will commit to MTB, the "free" Sync'r will make a difference. Probably more difference than any other upgrade you can make. After that, you probably would want to confine your upgrades to rather specific things, i.e. full suspension or hardtail, long travel or XC, climbing or downhill, etc.

  7. #7
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    I felt a huge difference going from a factory built hardtail to a custom built one.
    Trek …monda SL6 | Giant Fathom 29 |
    Octane One Prone 29

  8. #8
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    Basically there are no answer to your question.
    Any bike that retails over 800$ is a good bike or 95% of them.
    The variety of bikes available allow us to match our needs and likes.
    Are you a 140 pounder like me? 220?
    Do you climb on the saddle?
    Are you a distance rider? A power rider?
    How much do you depend on a shop?
    I found that a + bike is a good match if you have a bad back, if you need more traction.
    I had a Rocky Mountain about the same as your.
    For me switching was good, i went with an 11 speeds 22 pounder but i am 140 pounds and i do not focus on top speed.
    Do you want a lighter bike?
    Can you live with less range(less speeds)?
    Can you live with a lower BB?
    Any bike has flaws, decide the ones you are ready to live with to select a bike you will enjoy.
    If you are taller than 5,5 a 29 is a nice ride.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by 33red View Post
    Basically there are no answer to your question.
    Any bike that retails over 800$ is a good bike or 95% of them.
    The variety of bikes available allow us to match our needs and likes.
    Are you a 140 pounder like me? 220?
    Do you climb on the saddle?
    Are you a distance rider? A power rider?
    How much do you depend on a shop?
    I found that a + bike is a good match if you have a bad back, if you need more traction.
    I had a Rocky Mountain about the same as your.
    For me switching was good, i went with an 11 speeds 22 pounder but i am 140 pounds and i do not focus on top speed.
    Do you want a lighter bike?
    Can you live with less range(less speeds)?
    Can you live with a lower BB?
    Any bike has flaws, decide the ones you are ready to live with to select a bike you will enjoy.
    If you are taller than 5,5 a 29 is a nice ride.
    Thanks for the feedback.

    I'm pretty aware that there isn't ever a "perfect" option. But as most of you have more experience in this area, I find it useful to hear what your opinions are.

    I weigh about 185-190 in normal street clothes. Haven't weighed myself with my full kit on. But ~200lbs seems fairly reasonable for helmet + pads + spare stuff + backpack. I'm also about 6ft 1in.

    Typically I climb on the saddle. I'm a bit of a lower cadence rider as my background in cross country/soccer/genetics left me with fairly strong legs, and I've been riding clipless for 4 years on my longer rides.

    No idea if I'm a distance rider or a power rider. I've never had the time to do much more than 1-2 hrs of riding, but I'm open to it. The longest single ride I've ever done without stopping was ~26 miles. The distance wasn't a problem, but I was crashing a bit at the end (just needed to eat something I think).

    I do think I'd need to slightly lower my effort for > 2 - 3 hr rides though, as historically I'm pretty wiped when I get back. But those rides were specifically for fitness, so I pushed myself pretty hard.

    When I lived in CA, I had a ride I did every saturday, 95% paved, 17.3 miles, and on a good day I could it in just a hair under an hour, on that same 26'er hardtail with 1.75in gravel/slicks on it.

    I've never spent money at a bike shop. No current plans to change that behavior. I'm pretty decent with my hands, and am open to learning to do things myself.

    The bike I'm considering would be a dedicated mountain bike. So the lack of gearing compared to my current bike (which does both road, and mountain duties atm), likely isn't an issue. I did replace the large chainring on my current bike with a larger one, as on pavement I run out of gears easily, particularly on the flats. But again, in dirt trails, shouldn't be an issue I don't think.

    Weight isn't a huge deal to me. Half the reason I ride is for fitness. I have no plans to race in any events, so if I'm 30 sec slower and/or in slightly better shape because of a few extra pounds. No worries. But, I also don't want a 50lb boat anchor.

    No idea about the BB height. Is what I have now high? I've hit the large chainring on a downed log before, but can't really recall any pedal strikes.

  10. #10
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    Well you would be a good fit for a 29. If you need an invoice a HT would be my suggestion. I allways stay away from entry level. I guess your present bike would be used to get groceries etc... The new geometry is not an improvement in my opinion. So maybe around 120mm.

  11. #11
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    I like the Treks in the $1200-$1500 range. I havenít tried any as the only mountainbike available in my immediate area are just entry level, but Iím considering having a local Trek store just order one. There isnít any real Mountain biking here, just road. Iíd look carefully there.

  12. #12
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    Modern geo alone is enough of an upgrade IMHO. Slack head angle, long wheelbase bikes feel so much better and safer than the 26" XC geo ht's most of us started on.
    Thru axles are nice to have too, not as important on a hardtail's rear end, but you'll appreciate the extra stiffness on the fork.

    Apart from that, go for what you think will please you in the long run. If you see yourself upgrading to a full susser next year, why not go straight to one now? Usually this approach saves you some cash.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by justwan naride View Post
    Modern geo alone is enough of an upgrade IMHO. Slack head angle, long wheelbase bikes feel so much better and safer than the 26" XC geo ht's most of us started on.
    Thru axles are nice to have too, not as important on a hardtail's rear end, but you'll appreciate the extra stiffness on the fork.

    Apart from that, go for what you think will please you in the long run. If you see yourself upgrading to a full susser next year, why not go straight to one now? Usually this approach saves you some cash.
    for his yearly refund by employer

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muirenn View Post
    I like the Treks in the $1200-$1500 range. I havenít tried any as the only mountainbike available in my immediate area are just entry level, but Iím considering having a local Trek store just order one. There isnít any real Mountain biking here, just road. Iíd look carefully there.
    Yeah, the Trek Roscoe is one of the only plus hardtails that I hear anyone talk about. It also looks like the two higher end specs offer dropper posts, with one of them being not much over $800.

    If you do end up with one, I'd be interested in seeing how it works for you.

    The only other one I can think of offhand is the DB Mason series, which seem to have similar spec as the Trek.

    Quote Originally Posted by justwan naride View Post
    Modern geo alone is enough of an upgrade IMHO. Slack head angle, long wheelbase bikes feel so much better and safer than the 26" XC geo ht's most of us started on.
    Thru axles are nice to have too, not as important on a hardtail's rear end, but you'll appreciate the extra stiffness on the fork.

    Apart from that, go for what you think will please you in the long run. If you see yourself upgrading to a full susser next year, why not go straight to one now? Usually this approach saves you some cash.
    When did the "modern geometry revolution" really begin? I know 2012 is a bit old, but I know for sure that its geometry is more stretched out than other MTN bikes I had/rode in the 90's- 00's.

    I wish I had geo numbers for my current bike, so I could compare a bit more easily.

    And yes, I understand that usually leapfrog upgrading is the most expensive way to upgrade. In my case its a bit more foggy though, as the allure of "free bike" is strong. I also feel like maybe exploring my skills/limits more with a hardtail for longer may help me be a better rider long term? Or maybe thats just me feeling sticker shock from a full suspension, and trying to rationalize ways of avoiding those scary price tags :/.

    Thanks for the feedback everyone, it is helpful.

  15. #15
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    I don't think any of your options would be bad ones. You have some solid choices, and that $800 of "free money" to throw down is nice incentive. Frankly, I think you ought to try some different stuff out. Borrow from friends, rent, demo, whatever. Not necessarily to shop for anything specific, but just to see what's out there and how different things can feel.

    Quote Originally Posted by ocnLogan View Post
    When did the "modern geometry revolution" really begin? I know 2012 is a bit old, but I know for sure that its geometry is more stretched out than other MTN bikes I had/rode in the 90's- 00's.
    It started as a bit of a trickle. There were a couple of companies who jumped in hard on it and pushed the envelope and everybody else trickled along in smaller increments over time to avoid rocking the boat too hard. I'd say the first inclinations of changes occurring started over a decade ago.

    It's also taking longer to show up in budget bikes. Most brands are selling entry level mtbs with old geometry still.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I don't think any of your options would be bad ones. You have some solid choices, and that $800 of "free money" to throw down is nice incentive. Frankly, I think you ought to try some different stuff out. Borrow from friends, rent, demo, whatever. Not necessarily to shop for anything specific, but just to see what's out there and how different things can feel.

    It started as a bit of a trickle. There were a couple of companies who jumped in hard on it and pushed the envelope and everybody else trickled along in smaller increments over time to avoid rocking the boat too hard. I'd say the first inclinations of changes occurring started over a decade ago.

    It's also taking longer to show up in budget bikes. Most brands are selling entry level mtbs with old geometry still.
    I finally found some reference to possible geometry in a review. It didn't have a full geometry chart, but it references a 69 degree HTA, and 73.5 STA. I looked up the Diamondback Sync'r, and it has a 68 degree HTA, and 73 STA.

    To my untrained eye, that seems fairly similar. Then again, I don't know how much moving each of those numbers about really impacts things.

    And, as luck would have it, I have a buddy who is taking delivery of a Sync'r in the next few weeks. So I should be able to test ride that here sometime soon.

    Other than that, I think your suggestion is a great one. I just need to find a way to try more bikes. As currently I'm a bit paralyzed that I'll be buying something thats either the same as what I already have, or won't end up being what I want.

    Thanks for the help.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by ocnLogan View Post
    I finally found some reference to possible geometry in a review. It didn't have a full geometry chart, but it references a 69 degree HTA, and 73.5 STA. I looked up the Diamondback Sync'r, and it has a 68 degree HTA, and 73 STA.

    To my untrained eye, that seems fairly similar. Then again, I don't know how much moving each of those numbers about really impacts things.
    You can't look at an individual number in isolation and really assess the big picture. And even then, it's pretty hard to do that even when you DO have all of the numbers, because so much of the way a bike handles comes down to little things.

    One thing to point out with "modern geometry" is that it's more than head tube and seat tube angles. Those are parts of it, sure, but not all. One degree on a head tube angle is notable, though. You should be able to feel that. But things you also want to look at are how much fork travel the frame is designed for. That will change some aspects of handling. A big part of "modern geometry" is the length of the front end of the bike, and the length of stem it's designed around. The older the bike, the longer the stem it's designed to be ridden with, which is reflected by a shorter top tube. BB height has dropped some on more modern bikes, which increases stability at speed, and improves some aspects of handling. It can't change as much as other aspects, though, because you need clearance to ride over rocks and logs and such and to avoid pedal strikes.

    You should be pretty confident that with any of your options, you won't wind up with a bike that's pretty much the same as what you have now.

  18. #18
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    Even with a similar geometry going from 26 to 29 wheels is noticeable.
    Calling the different geo new is a marketing term.
    I call it crappy.
    Daily i see marks on rocks that i cannot do because my BB is not too low.
    They want you to replace parts just like the 12 speeds cassettes that brake wayyy to soon.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    You can't look at an individual number in isolation and really assess the big picture. And even then, it's pretty hard to do that even when you DO have all of the numbers, because so much of the way a bike handles comes down to little things.

    One thing to point out with "modern geometry" is that it's more than head tube and seat tube angles. Those are parts of it, sure, but not all. One degree on a head tube angle is notable, though. You should be able to feel that. But things you also want to look at are how much fork travel the frame is designed for. That will change some aspects of handling. A big part of "modern geometry" is the length of the front end of the bike, and the length of stem it's designed around. The older the bike, the longer the stem it's designed to be ridden with, which is reflected by a shorter top tube. BB height has dropped some on more modern bikes, which increases stability at speed, and improves some aspects of handling. It can't change as much as other aspects, though, because you need clearance to ride over rocks and logs and such and to avoid pedal strikes.

    You should be pretty confident that with any of your options, you won't wind up with a bike that's pretty much the same as what you have now.
    Guess I was just excited that I'd found any data, and that data wasn't saying I had a 73 degree HTA. For what its worth, my bike does have a longer stem on it. Not sure on the exact measurements, but closer to 100mm than it is to 40mm for sure.

    At this point, the consensus seems to be "yes, it should be different, if even just for things like geo, air fork, etc". And to figure out what I want, I should probably just go ride as many as I can.

    At the very least I should be able to try out my buddies soon to be delivered DB Sync'r, and then I guess I'll branch out from there.

    Thanks for the reassurance everyone .

  20. #20
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    First internet bike for me was Canfield Yelli, frame only. It was one of the 29er HT with the change in frame geo., including short chain stays.

    Other brands have blown by it over the years, but it was a noticeable improvement for me in terms of descending, moving the bike around, and getting air.


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