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Thread: FS Trail Bikes

  1. #1
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    FS Trail Bikes

    I'm hoping that I'll be able to get a new FS MTB this year (job search-dependent) so I'm starting some initial searching. I'm planning to move to a more mountainous area, so a bit more suspension travel than my current 100mm front 90mm rear (03 Stumpjumper FSR) will come in handy. I'm not the sort of guy who gets a lot of air or does tricks, but I do appreciate chunk and technical riding. I have my FSR built up a little heavier than it originally came to account for my style.

    At any rate, on initial looks, I am liking the Yeti 575 and the Pivot Mach 5.7 and I'm curious what other bikes out there would be similar and what people's impressions are of those bikes. I admit to having a preference for more active suspension designs owing to spending the past several years on a FSR rear end, but I'm not opposed to things like Yeti's glorified single pivot if they ride well.

    I'd rather go with an Alu FS over a carbon model. Primarily as a cost-management issue, but also because I'm just not convinced by carbon for a mtb. I really don't want to be forced to replace the frame because of a nick or a scratch (also cost-management you could say).

    Right now I really don't have access to test ride much of anything in this segment of the market. My LBS stocks mostly road bikes, campus bikes, and one or two XC FS bikes. I am leaning towards smaller builders than the "Big 3", but would be open to considering one of the more mass market bikes.

    I would also prefer if the bike in question was available as a frameset. I built up my last bike and would prefer to continue to do that.

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    That's a tough one, you're talking about two really solid bikes and in that same price range you have many others that are worth considering as well. I'd say you should make a road trip and try some bikes out; Moab is chock full of rentals

    Are there riders in your area that might let you test ride one of those bike? Might be worth asking about on your regional forum as it could be your only option for testing any bike that you're looking at.

    Another option is asking about what bikes people ride in the area you're looking to move. Maybe you have a perception of the trails there and it might not be valid.

    It would be really hard to go wrong with any bike in the price range you're looking at but you can probably come out better if you know how the bikes you're interested in ride. You'll find that with the bikes that are on the market now the shock affects the way the bike rides more than the suspension design does. There are some exceptions, but you can really make any bike ride great with the right shock and the correct setup.

    Don't fear carbon. If you do something that would damage a carbon part you can rest assured that it would have also damaged an Al part. Cost worries I can understand, but don't think carbon is some sort of magical self-imploding material.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    That's a tough one, you're talking about two really solid bikes and in that same price range you have many others that are worth considering as well. I'd say you should make a road trip and try some bikes out; Moab is chock full of rentals

    Are there riders in your area that might let you test ride one of those bike? Might be worth asking about on your regional forum as it could be your only option for testing any bike that you're looking at.

    Another option is asking about what bikes people ride in the area you're looking to move. Maybe you have a perception of the trails there and it might not be valid.

    It would be really hard to go wrong with any bike in the price range you're looking at but you can probably come out better if you know how the bikes you're interested in ride. You'll find that with the bikes that are on the market now the shock affects the way the bike rides more than the suspension design does. There are some exceptions, but you can really make any bike ride great with the right shock and the correct setup.

    Don't fear carbon. If you do something that would damage a carbon part you can rest assured that it would have also damaged an Al part. Cost worries I can understand, but don't think carbon is some sort of magical self-imploding material.
    I'm talking about minor damage. The sort of impact that would chip carbon, and damage the structural integrity and would dent Al. A major dent in an Al frame would turn it into scrap metal, but small ones aren't really a big problem unless you get a bunch. You know, the sort of thing that might happen if you lay the bike over when you can't clean a techy rock garden (which I am prone to do because I like rock gardens).

    I really don't have reasonable access to the sorts of bikes I'm interested in right now. I know a guy who rides a FS bike with more travel than mine, but it's a full freeride bike. He likes big air and that's just more bike than I want. I am not even close enough in my search to make big trips specifically for test and demo rides. I am pretty sure that in order to be able to see a decent selection of FS bikes, I'll need to go to Austin, 5+hrs away. That's just not in the cards right now.

    If my wife manages to get the potential employer interested enough on the phone this week, we might be flying up to WA at which point I'd like to try to rent/borrow a bike similar to what I'm interested in. But it's too early for that.

    Right now I'm just curious what other bikes might be somewhat similar to the ones I mentioned above. What should I keep my eyes out for in the event I do get the chance to demo different bikes.

    I will say that I rented a Trek Fuel EX8 when I was on vacation in 2010. It was okay. I suppose it did the job, but it didn't really make me feel strongly one way or the other. Most of what I remember from that trip was wishing that I had brought my pedals and shoes. I was thinking about packing them, but opted to pack a little lighter and left them home.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    I'm talking about minor damage. The sort of impact that would chip carbon, and damage the structural integrity and would dent Al. A major dent in an Al frame would turn it into scrap metal, but small ones aren't really a big problem unless you get a bunch. You know, the sort of thing that might happen if you lay the bike over when you can't clean a techy rock garden (which I am prone to do because I like rock gardens).
    Just remember, you're talking about a stigma about carbon not facts. Metal is just as sensitive to surface condition so a dent is just as damaging to metal as a nick is to carbon. It's just that people don't understand carbon failure as well as metal failure so a lot of mis-information gets passed around. Yes if you scratch carbon it will fail faster but that's the same thing that happens to metal. Back when they were first using carbon there were some poorly designed products but any major manufacturer of bike parts and frames has it figured out that they need to design parts for carbon and they can't just replicate a metal piece in a new material.

    What kind of riding do you like? Have you had any other bikes that you really enjoyed riding? It's impossible to suggest a bike just off the cuff, everyone is just going to suggest what they ride and call it the best choice for you. Obviously that's not going to be the best way to find a bike but I guess you have to start somewhere. You seem to be pulling for a 5-6" travel bike, have you ever been on one? They're pretty awesome, I will admit.
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    If you want to support a smaller builder and have what looks to be a very decent frame with a Horst/FSR design, take a look at Titus. Smokin' deals direct from Titus right now on the FTM and El G.

    Titus FTM Aluminum Frame

    Titus El Guapo Frame w/Rockshox Monarch RT3 Shock
    Sometimes, you need to go fast enough that the trail is a blur to find clarity. -- Wild Bill

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    I have a Pivot 5.7 but don't have much previous experience to compare it to. I can say it's built rugged. I have not been able to break anything. I have the XT build. The fit damper in the fork gives you plenty of adjustments to play with.

    The rear shock has a rather flat rate so it uses plenty of travel but never seems to bottom out hard that you can feel. Rear climbs over roots well but small bump compliance is not great. I run the shock pressures on the high side to reduce pedal strikes. This is probably caused somewhat by my using big platforms on trails with roots.

    I have somewhat short legs and have gone to a set back seat post to get weight off the front.

    If I try something else it might be the Pivot 429.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    Just remember, you're talking about a stigma about carbon not facts. Metal is just as sensitive to surface condition so a dent is just as damaging to metal as a nick is to carbon. It's just that people don't understand carbon failure as well as metal failure so a lot of mis-information gets passed around. Yes if you scratch carbon it will fail faster but that's the same thing that happens to metal. Back when they were first using carbon there were some poorly designed products but any major manufacturer of bike parts and frames has it figured out that they need to design parts for carbon and they can't just replicate a metal piece in a new material.

    What kind of riding do you like? Have you had any other bikes that you really enjoyed riding? It's impossible to suggest a bike just off the cuff, everyone is just going to suggest what they ride and call it the best choice for you. Obviously that's not going to be the best way to find a bike but I guess you have to start somewhere. You seem to be pulling for a 5-6" travel bike, have you ever been on one? They're pretty awesome, I will admit.
    Hm...I have to say I have little experience with carbon so I'll have to think more about it. Regardless, it does raise costs higher than I'm comfortable spending so it's a moot point.

    Riding style - I like to keep my wheels mostly on the ground but will take smaller jumps/drops. I like rocks and other rough stuff. Definitely to the point that I can notice unfavorable flex at the QR on the front. My current bike is more flexy in the rear end than I prefer, too, but it's hard to tease out how much is skewer flex and how much is the suspension design. Either way, something with through axles front and rear would be nice.

    I want to get the frameset only because I don't want to wind up with components I don't care for, namely suspension and wheels, and I don't want to have to deal with selling takeoffs. I want to make sure I get quality stuff. For example I'm hearing that other companies seem to have surpassed Fox in the suspension game. My current bike has Fox al the way around; that was a major selling point since back then Fox was better than the other options. This time around I want to look at the other quality options.

    I have only taken trail bikes like this on parking lot spins so far, and none in the past few years. I rode a Spec Enduro in the 6 inch range and that was quite a lot of bike. Fun for sure but more than I needed at the time. Also took out a newer 5in stumpy fsr than what I own. That was a nice length of travel but it still had QR's on both wheels at the time and probably would uave had a good bit of flex in the chunk. It looks to me like a happy medium is in between 5 and 6 where the bike isn't quite at the 6in level but is still more stout than the 5in stumpy I rode awhile back.

  8. #8
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    If your looking into the 575 the 2012's have changed the rear from carbon to aluminum not sure how this affects the rear so might want to check the yeti threads so I would lean towards the Pivot 5.7 from the get go. Don't really have any input on either bikes but, if your looking for a 29'er I would look into the Transition bandit 29 or the regular 26 inch bandit. Just throwing out some other suggestions besides the 575 and the Pivot.
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    I'm with Zebrahum. If you don't want to go with big 3 and considering the DW link then I'd say Ibis is the way to go. The SL or SLr is not too bad as you are getting a lot of bike for a great value. Ibis is a popular boutique bike that's offer great value.

    I can be a Klutz sometime and have not had any issues with the 2 Mojo I own, one of them is from the first batch and still going strong. As for the cost, Ibis charges about the $300 per triangle for a replacement which is really good. Almost the same as Santa Cruz alu replacement, and Ibis customer service is quite impressive.

    I'd also look at the 5Spot. It's a fun bike

    Since you are definitely one of the knowledgeble veteran I don't think you'd have a hard time doing all the necessary upgrades and choosing sensible parts to fit the type of riding you'd be doing with the new trail machine

    Wildcard choice would be the Titus FTM alu or carbon, they are awesome especially with the price. The carbon version is damn sexy

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    Quote Originally Posted by RockyMt View Post
    I have a Pivot 5.7 but don't have much previous experience to compare it to. I can say it's built rugged. I have not been able to break anything. I have the XT build. The fit damper in the fork gives you plenty of adjustments to play with.

    The rear shock has a rather flat rate so it uses plenty of travel but never seems to bottom out hard that you can feel. Rear climbs over roots well but small bump compliance is not great. I run the shock pressures on the high side to reduce pedal strikes. This is probably caused somewhat by my using big platforms on trails with roots.

    I have somewhat short legs and have gone to a set back seat post to get weight off the front.

    If I try something else it might be the Pivot 429.
    I forgot to add that I never feel the need to use propedal or fork lockout. The fork eats roots quite well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    Hm...I have to say I have little experience with carbon so I'll have to think more about it. Regardless, it does raise costs higher than I'm comfortable spending so it's a moot point.

    Riding style - I like to keep my wheels mostly on the ground but will take smaller jumps/drops. I like rocks and other rough stuff. Definitely to the point that I can notice unfavorable flex at the QR on the front. My current bike is more flexy in the rear end than I prefer, too, but it's hard to tease out how much is skewer flex and how much is the suspension design. Either way, something with through axles front and rear would be nice.

    I want to get the frameset only because I don't want to wind up with components I don't care for, namely suspension and wheels, and I don't want to have to deal with selling takeoffs. I want to make sure I get quality stuff. For example I'm hearing that other companies seem to have surpassed Fox in the suspension game. My current bike has Fox al the way around; that was a major selling point since back then Fox was better than the other options. This time around I want to look at the other quality options.

    I have only taken trail bikes like this on parking lot spins so far, and none in the past few years. I rode a Spec Enduro in the 6 inch range and that was quite a lot of bike. Fun for sure but more than I needed at the time. Also took out a newer 5in stumpy fsr than what I own. That was a nice length of travel but it still had QR's on both wheels at the time and probably would uave had a good bit of flex in the chunk. It looks to me like a happy medium is in between 5 and 6 where the bike isn't quite at the 6in level but is still more stout than the 5in stumpy I rode awhile back.
    I have to say that the words "budget" and "frameset only" don't go together. You can get way more bike for the money by buying a complete. Of course, you need to have the money up front. I was holding the same hesitations as you, I was thinking I would part out all sorts of things on my bike when it arrived ("SLX cranks? I need something way nicer than that!" I said) and two seasons later I've put new grips on and swapped a friend for a coil shock. Remember that the technology that was the XTR hotness 5 years ago is Deore now, SLX stuff is solid, and XT is basically durable XTR. I only bring this all up because you can do way better for your money if you buy a complete bike and you did mention you had a budget. Of course, I understand the urge to build from a frame as well. Just remember, it's crazy expensive to only buy the parts you want instead of shopping for deals. That Fox Kashima 34 isn't going on sale any time soon so you're going to have to pay to play.

    Some other bikes/frames to consider: Specialized SJ Evo, Transition Covert or Bandit, Yeti SB66/SB95, the Ibis Mojo family, and I'm sure many others. I guess I keep recommending bikes toward the longer side of the spectrum but you'll find that they're really legitimate options with well valved shocks and great suspension designs.
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  12. #12
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    I say "budget" but I'm fairly flexible on the overall price of everything at this point. I'll probably start to narrow things down as time goes on. What I really mean is that the added cost of a carbon frame over Alu would likely wind up forcing me to cut some costs elsewhere, like wheels or the fork, or spend more time saving the paycheck.

    I spent $1500 building up a singlespeed commuter bike this past fall. I could have done that for a lot cheaper just buying off the rack. But I got exactly what I wanted. I couldn't get a high-end chichi frame, but wisely choosing where to spend my money got me a nice all-around bike.

    Like you, I don't really mind midrange drivetrain components. I wouldn't mind trying out one of those XTR rear derailleurs with the roller clutch, but if that tech trickles down by the time I'm ready to buy, I'd be cool with it. I do want a good set of wheels with something like Hope Pro II hubs. I think a lot of the SLX gear looks pretty slick so I'd rock the SLX crankset by all means.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post

    Like you, I don't really mind midrange drivetrain components. I wouldn't mind trying out one of those XTR rear derailleurs with the roller clutch, but if that tech trickles down by the time I'm ready to buy, I'd be cool with it. I do want a good set of wheels with something like Hope Pro II hubs. [B] I think a lot of the SLX gear looks pretty slick so I'd rock the SLX crankset by all means.[[/B]
    I have the XTR(960, and 970), XT, and SLX crankset, when compare them side by side SLX feel just as nice as XTR especially when comparing to the 960. If they slap the XTR logo on the SLX crank I'd belived it.

    Nate if you haven't rock the adj seatpost then it's a good time to plan for one

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    Salsa Horsethief is available as frame-only, too. That's on the short list for my next bike. 120mm travel in the rear, can take 120 or 140 in the front.

    The full build is really nice, Fox suspension, X.7/X.9 drivetrain, Formula/Stan's Flow wheels, right at about $3K.

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    I'm a big fan of the Devinci Dixon RC. Plenty of travel. Laterally stiff rear end. Reasonably light for climbing and endurance events.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mimi1885 View Post
    Nate if you haven't rock the adj seatpost then it's a good time to plan for one
    It's on my mind. I've never used one so I'd want to try one (or more) out to see how I'd like it. I do notice some irritation with my Thomson post on my FSR with the interrupted seat tube. It's impossible for me to lower the post any more than it is now and sometimes it's just too high, namely for techy steeps...but that's where it needs to be for comfortable pedaling on the flats and on climbs.

  17. #17
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    Aww you leaving TX mate? Congrats on moving towards better riding, where you headed?

    I have to agree that the Titus deal is a smokin' one, and if I needed a new frame one of those would be pretty high up. Maybe a mojo or a 5.7, and based on how much I like my Trance a Reign. Lots of good bikes out there.


    If the right deal comes along, I say don't be scared of carbon. I agree with you on the cost front, but just because a frame is carbon is no reason not to buy it.
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  18. #18
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    yep, leaving TX. hopefully early summer...May-June-ish. Destination hasn't been secured quite yet. However, my wife is currently being courted by a business in Spokane, WA. Once we know where we're going for sure, I'll work harder to find a job. I've done a little bit so far, but it's hard to job hunt AND write a thesis at the same time. Which is part of the reason I'm considering a bit more from a FS than I have now. I'm looking at mountainous destinations with a lot more rocks than I currently deal with.

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