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  1. #1
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    New question here. Best XC bike for $2,000 - $3,000

    am looking for a good FS trail bike which climbs as good as it races downhill. As I will also be doing some groomed paths as well as asphalt, I need to be able to stiffen up the suspension. I am not planning on racing, except for fun and plan on joining a MB group.

    In reading tons of forums and a number of recent ads, here are my choices (I think).

    Yeti 575
    Santa Cruz Superlight
    Titus Motolite
    Giant Trance 1
    Specialized Stumpjumper FS Comp or Elite
    Ibex Atalas Expert X9

    Some of the bikes are barely squeaking in under the budget and in at least one case, I will end up with lower quality components, just because the frame is so expensive.

    I know that there are a lot better bikes out there, but I have a family and the $3K is stretching my hobby budget to the max.

    Did I miss anything?

    I would appreciate any comments and advice as I try to pick the best bike for the buck.

  2. #2
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    I would probably thin the list a bit if you are looking for the best bike for the buck and eliminate the Yeti, SC, and Titus. The Ibex would probably be the best bang for the buck. Finding a bike with the right fit is pretty important. I would probably put the Giant Anthem, Specialized Epic, on the list with the Stumpjumper. If the LBS sells Trek you might also look at the Fuel 8. If you want to save a few dollars you could step down a little to the Iron Horse, Raleigh, GT etc bikes. If you could swing a good deal on an Anthem, Epic, Stumpjumper, or Fuel its really a no brainer.

  3. #3
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    Wink Surprised!!

    I am a bit surprised as the first three bikes get raves from several of the mountain bike reviewers..(of course, they don't have to live with a budget)

    I don't mind spending a little money on the bike and the Trance 1 is at $2300, which is a comfortable price. I don't know anything about the Epic or the Anthem...but I think that they have less play or room in their suspension (not sure what it is really called). I do like to do the trail riding and with the rocks and roots that I have in my area, I need around 4".

    Is it worth upgrading to the next level on the Stumpjumper? It is a big jump ($600).

    I have a 29.5 inch inseam and am 5'9" tall...so was planning on getting a medium frame (around 18"). I have heard that the Specialized and Giant ride completely different. Any preference?

  4. #4
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    For some of the bikes Giant will call their 20.5 inch bike a large and Specialized calls the 19 inch large. I have found Giant large to be a better fit for me than a Specialized XL at 21.5 inches or L at 19. You might find the Giant medium a better fit than the Specialized. There are better bikes than the Stumpjumper and they are also more expensive. There also cheaper bikes than the Stumpjumper but then they arent as good. As long as you are checking the Trance out you should look at the Anthem.

    For $600 you get a better fork, rear shock and other components. Its probably a little lighter. Nothing much to upgrade. If you get serious into biking you will see a lot of bikes that the owners have paid more than 3k for and that is often with steep discounts.

  5. #5
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    So what would you recommend?

    It sounds like your recommendation is to go with the Anthem, or am I mistaken?

    What would you consider the top XC bikes to be in the price range? Or am I underbudgeting? Is it better to buy a really good frame and then have to skimp a little on the components or should I be buying a mid range frame and go for the best component package?

  6. #6
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    I think a nice trio of bike to try would be the Anthem 1 a XC race bike which I am guessing weighs about 27.5 pounds. The Specialized FSR Comp at 28.5 pounds and the Trance which is probabaly about 29.5. I guess I am pretty biased towards the lighter XC bikes. The Stumpjumper might be the best of the three. I like Giant, Specialized and Trek because they seem to actually test their bikes rather than just slapping components on. I think they do a better job of matching forks and rear suspensions.

  7. #7
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    Titus ML complete, Trek Fuel EX8 or Specialized Stumpjumper Comp are all great choices. The hard part is deciding which one to buy. My advice is to ride all three, preferably on trails to test fit, handling, suspension, etc. LBS support is an important consideration too. I currently own an 07 Fuel EX8. I have also owned a ML and stumpies. Good luck with your decision.

  8. #8
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    Go with the Giant Trance

    I love my '06 Giant Trance 1! It weighs in at 27.4 lbs! Light enough to make it fun, but beefy enough to take substantial hits and drops! Good luck!

  9. #9
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    If you are looking for a bike that really does it all for less than $3000 Check out this thread on Bionicon vs Specialized vs Ventana for a pretty in depth breakdown of all three
    stumpy FSR Expert v Ventana El Cicolo v Bionicon GW

    Also check the MTBR.com Pro Review on the Bionicon Golden Willow http://forums.mtbr.com/blog.php?do=showentry&e=873
    and a review of the Edison Ltd on www.azfreeride.com

  10. #10
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    I dont have any data on two of those

    I did take a looke at the thread, but was quickly confused. It sounds like two of the bikes are make in Europe and were being reviewed by Europeans. How available are the bikes in the VA area to ride and test?

    I was looking at Mountain Bike Action and they seem to love the Santa Cruze Superlight and the Titus Motolite.....again, can you build a decent bike for under $3K?

  11. #11
    Hueston Woods Trail Crew
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    Bargain Boutique Bike

    2007 Bicycling Magazine Editor's Choice, plus multi-year MTBR 5-Star winner is the Titus Motolite.
    Not nearly as common as Giant and Specialized, but who wants to ride what everyone else has.
    The '07 Motolite Complete, with good parts mix: Fox Talas, Avid Juicy, Mavic Crossride- is going for under $2500.
    Of course, you can go with the same bike with different frame materials and more expensive parts and you'll spend up to $7700. That makes the Complete pretty much of a steal.

  12. #12
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    Elimination Continues

    I got so confused that I started a spreadsheet that identified the specs, awards/recommendations, etc.

    Two bikes that I am now VERY interested in is the Titus Motolite and the Santa Cruz Superlite. Does anyone have any experience on either of these?

  13. #13
    Get Down Do you
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyber_hawke
    I got so confused that I started a spreadsheet that identified the specs, awards/recommendations, etc.

    Two bikes that I am now VERY interested in is the Titus Motolite and the Santa Cruz Superlite. Does anyone have any experience on either of these?

    Both the Motolite and the Superlight are ride/race proven bikes you will be happy with either. They will ride a bit different considering that the Superlight is a single pivot FS and the Motolite is a 4bar. I would check the Titus and Santa cruz forums because there is a lot of writeups on both of those bikes in there. If you can find a boutique shop that carries either and you can get a leg over on it would be even better.

    Your best bet to be honest would be to hit a bunch of bike shops in your area and talk bikes with some of the shop guys especially about what they carry. I know I love to talk bikes with people when they come into the shop and you can really get into the bikes you are looking at.
    Progression is fine just remember to respect your roots.



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  14. #14
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    Just note, some of the boutique brands mentioned dont have lifetime warrantys on the frames. For what it's worth I have a Trek EX-7, and with some upgrades (including wheels) I am super happy with it, and altogether it has cost me way less than your maximum. Look for deals!

  15. #15
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    I was shopping in the same price range and decided for the TREk Top Fuel 8. It turned out to be a great bike. Climbs unbeleivable and decents well, handles varied terrain well. The only changes I made: installed the eggbeaters from my old bike, like them as used to them, and put IRC serac tubeless tires. The Trek was easy to set up, the susp. works better than my old fuel 100. I weight 200lbs nad the bike doesnt feel weak.

  16. #16
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    If I had to recommend 3 trail bikes for someone on a budget, that had very good bang for buck it would be..........GIANT Trance, TREK FuelEX, IronHorse MKIII.

    I've had my '05 Trance 3 (originally) for overs 2 years and have totally loved every minute on it. It is now probably closer spec to a '07 Trance1. It really to me is a sweet do it all bike, once you plan on keeping the air beneath you to about 4-ft. The FuelEX is also a very nice bike with a great component selection and the IH MKIII is also there and uses the DW link suspension which is very simialr to the GIANT Maestro suspension.

    with regards to the Anthem and/or Fuel they are both race designed bikes, with less travel and thinner tubesets and racier geometry=quick steering. If by chance you came down to choosing between the 2 I would definitely give the Anthem the edge for being built a good bit stronger than the Fuel.
    Last edited by LyNx; 05-28-2007 at 07:57 PM.
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  17. #17
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    LBS Visits

    I guess I have to say that visiting the LBS is what got me confused. The shop that sold mostly Jamis bikes swore that they were the best thing since someone learned how to brew beer, the same with the shop that sold specialized, giant, etc.

    I then started looking at shops located in MTB areas and rented demo bikes and that eliminated a number of the ones that I just didn't like. Last weekend, I stopped by one bike shop and they were kind enough to admit that their customers did not buy MTBs, but directed me to another shop that was close to a park and they showed me the differences between the Specialized Stumpy and the Yeti.

    Since I am in the process of moving to VA, my goal is to buy a new bike the third week in June. My list is now shorter and I have decided to focus on a better frame and then upgrade components as time and my skills improve. Right now the list is Yeti 575, Titus Motolite, Santa Cruz Heckler (after a long talk with the Santa Cruze technical folks).

    With these, I can stay within my budget (under $3K) and get a good frame that I can build on. Did I leave anything out?

  18. #18
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    and you eliminated the others Trek, IronHorse, Giant because they make inferior frames? or did you actually ride their offerings and didn't like them? Seems more like you bought into the "If it costs more, it has to better" BS that the bourique brands push.

    Quote Originally Posted by cyber_hawke
    My list is now shorter and I have decided to focus on a better frame and then upgrade components as time and my skills improve. Right now the list is Yeti 575, Titus Motolite, Santa Cruz Heckler (after a long talk with the Santa Cruze technical folks).

    With these, I can stay within my budget (under $3K) and get a good frame that I can build on. Did I leave anything out?
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??
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  19. #19
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    partially right...

    I did ride the Giant Trance and Reign and eliminated them. At two of the LBS's they also sold Treks and the LBS salespeople steered me away from them and tried to talk me into their specialized or jamis bikes. So I figured that the bike shops should have a better idea about quality than I do. I did not try an Ironhorse, but if you think it is as good as the others, I will give it a shot. I am also trying to research IBEX, who sell a much lower cost bike with great components and I am trying to get some info from folks that really ride them....so it is not a boutiqe decision, but one where I am really trying to ride as many as possible.

    I intend on riding the bike for a long time and am willing to go with a little less quality components to get the best frame I can. I am no where close to an expert, so if someone can steer me in another direction, I am really open.

    thanks

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyber_hawke
    I did take a looke at the thread, but was quickly confused. It sounds like two of the bikes are make in Europe and were being reviewed by Europeans. How available are the bikes in the VA area to ride and test?
    I've been out of the country and just now catching up... MBA (US) have reviewed both of the Bionicon bikes mentioned, and there are pro reviews on MTBR, AZFreeride.com, and a few other places. All the U.S. Bionicons are designed in Europe and tested in Europe and the Western U.S. (California/Arizona/Utah/Co). They're hand-assembled in California with parts coming from Europe, Asia, and the U.S. (like many of the high-end brands). But since they're based in California and Germany, I don't think there are any dealers in VA yet.

    Perhaps some of the Bionicon crew can give you more info, or you could recommend a dealer local to you and they could ship a demo bike to them for you to try. I know they've talked about doing that for others with no local dealers.
    http://www.bioniconusa.com - Bionicon USA
    http://otbmbc.com - Over the Bars MTB Club
    http://corbamtb.com - CORBA

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyber_hawke
    am looking for a good FS trail bike which climbs as good as it races downhill. As I will also be doing some groomed paths as well as asphalt, I need to be able to stiffen up the suspension. I am not planning on racing, except for fun and plan on joining a MB group.

    In reading tons of forums and a number of recent ads, here are my choices (I think).

    Yeti 575
    Santa Cruz Superlight
    Titus Motolite
    Giant Trance 1
    Specialized Stumpjumper FS Comp or Elite
    Ibex Atalas Expert X9

    Some of the bikes are barely squeaking in under the budget and in at least one case, I will end up with lower quality components, just because the frame is so expensive.

    I know that there are a lot better bikes out there, but I have a family and the $3K is stretching my hobby budget to the max.

    Did I miss anything?

    I would appreciate any comments and advice as I try to pick the best bike for the buck.

    Hello there,

    Did you make a decision? If so, what did you go with?

    My two cents. I'm no expert mind you however I've learned alot over the last 3 years. I bought a Stumpy 120 expert (05) three years ago and have loved it ever since. I think you are a little like me, research, research, research then buy. I honestly had never ridden a real quality MTB ever, so when I decided to get into it I was overwhelmed and lost. Did a lot of reading and spoke to a lot of people. I think the most important advice regarding buying a bike is to ride it and see how it feels. You won't go wrong with any of the bikes in your budget. You will go crazy trying to figure out which one is the best, because every one has an opinion and in your budget there will be no "perfect" bike that everyone will agree on. Some people like this, other hate those... it's super confusing.

    This is what happened to me. After buying my Stumpy Expert, I started riding as much as I could. I was hooked. Over the past three years, I developped "my" style of riding and essentially determined what I like, how I ride, what my level of expertise is and all that. This year is the first year that I'm finally comfortable riding and feel confident that I'm not bad at all. I'm in way better shape too. This is also the first year that I truly feel that my bike is finally "set up" to suit my style. The LBS really did nothing other than ask me my weight. So, for the last few years I've been trying to fit myself to the bike rather than fit the bike to me... which is typical because I didn't know how it should feel. So now, after riding for three years and reading and talking to many people, my bike is "tuned" to me and I truly love it. My forks and shock have the right amount of sag, comp and rebnd for my style. My seat heat is perfect, bar height, etc... I don't know if I'm the only one that has experienced this learning curve but I doubt it.

    Find the bikes that are in your budget and that many people think highly of, ride them all and buy the one that you fall in love with!! You can't go wrong.

    Best of luck.

  22. #22
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    It's a learning curve that your LBS should have given you a head-start on. Getting a bike that fits is as important as just about anything else... wrong fit, and you may never take a bike to its potential, or reach your own.

    That's another area where the Bionicon's can have another advantage. Air shocks are easier to adjust for weight, and the Bionicons have a reach and height adjustable stem (you can do it on the trail), so they can be fit to a wider range of riding positions without changing components. Changing the geometry for different terrain is a bonus, and I added a Gravity dropper to mine, so between all those adjustments, from my first ride to getting a comfortable fit took a little bit of experimenting over a few rides, and I haven't had to change anything since. I didn't get mine through an LBS, so the easy adjustments saved me a lot of hassle.

    So ride lots of bikes and see what fits, as much as what feels right. It's very important to the enjoyability of your new ride.
    http://www.bioniconusa.com - Bionicon USA
    http://otbmbc.com - Over the Bars MTB Club
    http://corbamtb.com - CORBA

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyber_hawke
    How available are the bikes in the VA area to ride and test?

    I was looking at Mountain Bike Action and they seem to love the Santa Cruze Superlight and the Titus Motolite.....again, can you build a decent bike for under $3K?
    If you're in northern Virginia, try out Conte's in Arlington (Ballston neighborhood) for Titus. They have a medium Titus Motolite Complete in stock. You're not going to find too many built up Santa Cruz bikes in the greater DC area. Check out Germantown Cycles in Maryland.

    If you're interested in the Motolite and don't mind a bit of a drive, check out the The Bicycle Escape in Frederick, MD. Very friendly folks and they have a great website with all their stock with weights listed. They're having a Titus demo this Sunday at Gambrill.

  24. #24
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    I think Bionicon are closest to the ideal 'do it all' bike and thats why I bought two. You can get too hung up about the perfect bike, it does not exist really, its all down to rider ability and no bike is going to compensate for the lack of it.

    However ride up steep hills easily and attempt downhills that you shouldn't........that will be the Bionicon Edison, probably the nearest thing to your ideal.

  25. #25
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    K2 Apache 6.0.

    Check the specs on the Apache vs. the other bikes you named. You'll be surprised. Note that the Apache weighs only 26.5lbs (for some reason, my M size is only 26.0). Goodly bikes carries K2 in Richmond and a few other places, and REI carries K2 brand.

    2007 @ $2199: http://www.rei.com/product/747796
    2006 @ $1699: http://www.rscycle.com/s.nl/it.A/id....=7&category=55

    I think it climbs very well, and has lockout for the shock and fork (not remote, though). Set the shock on the firm side, and it really feels like a hardtail - no squishiness here. I can only really compare it to the Motolite, which I thought was too heavy-feeling and gummy. From what I've read, my sense is that the Apache most closely resembles the feel of the Superlight, though I can't say first-hand.
    Hi!
    Location: Richmond, VA
    Style: XC, Mid-Atlantic roots, rocks, & poison ivy
    Rides: '06 K2 Apache 6.0, '01 K2 Razorback Team

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