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Thread: FSR vs. Maestro

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    Oz
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    FSR vs. Maestro

    I know this is a very vague question, so I apologize in advance. I am looking at buying my first full suspension bike in the next few months and my LBS sells Specialized and Giant brand bikes. I'm not sure which model I want from either brand, but I'm leaning towards the Epic or Anthem X. I ride mostly cross country on a 1995 Cannondale hardtail and I'm not overly aggressive so I think that the 4" travel bikes would be enough. I was hoping some of you might have experience with both the FSR and Maestro suspension designs and could give me some input, advantages, disadvantages of both. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated since this is a major purchase that I hope will last me for several years.

    Thanks again, Oz.

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    FSR vs. Maestro

    Well I think this is a great question, I guess because I'm curious too. I'm also between these two models. I've read great things about the Maesto suspension lately and I'd rather buy Fox suspension components than Specialized. I don't really understand why they want to reinvent the wheel other than to make more profit.

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    They are both good. Specialized gives you a lifetime warranty and has good CS as well. I am not sure what Giant offers.

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    I think both suspensions would perform equally well. I'm probably biased towards giant as I have owned a Trance. Back then Giant had unbeatable value for money so was the top pick, but this year their pricing is up so it's probably a closer comparison between the two. I believe Giant does also provide lifetime warranty - but who keeps a bike for longer than 5yrs these days anyway! I find it kind of funny that people base so much importance on teh lifetime warranty thing since it doesn't transfer over to another owner once you sell the bike.

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    I also had a question similar to this concerning giant and specialized. Very interested to hear the responses.


    Quote Originally Posted by ducktape
    I think both suspensions would perform equally well. I'm probably biased towards giant as I have owned a Trance. Back then Giant had unbeatable value for money so was the top pick, but this year their pricing is up so it's probably a closer comparison between the two. I believe Giant does also provide lifetime warranty - but who keeps a bike for longer than 5yrs these days anyway! I find it kind of funny that people base so much importance on teh lifetime warranty thing since it doesn't transfer over to another owner once you sell the bike.
    That is exactly why the bike companies offer lifetime warranties to the first owners. They know that on average they will not have to fulfill any "lifetime" warranties past the first several years, cause people cycle through bikes (no pun intended).

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    Giant is still the best value out there. Specialized uses way too many "house brand" parts to be a contender in my books. I'd rather have parts that any shop anywhere can service instead of being Specialized specific. Maestro is awesome, FSR is old but still good. Maestro is awesome, Maestro is awesome. Did I mention that Maestro is awesome?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ducktape
    but who keeps a bike for longer than 5yrs these days anyway!
    Uh, I still ride my FSR from 1999 and don't plan on getting rid of it anytime soon

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    Quote Originally Posted by fixbikeguy
    Giant is still the best value out there. Specialized uses way too many "house brand" parts to be a contender in my books. I'd rather have parts that any shop anywhere can service instead of being Specialized specific.
    I couldn`t agree more ! I used to be a big specialized guy , but lately have been very turned off with how they are building their bikes . When buying a nice high end bike I want cool aftermarket parts! Go with the giant , you won`t be disappointed !
    Fu(k cancer

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    To make it a little more complicated, there is also DW-LINK

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    I've test ridden the anthem and thought that it would make a ridiculously awesome just XC bike, haven't tried an epic since they are priced out of my dollar.

    I'd say go with giant just because you can get a bike for less money if that does come into play.
    Just another redneck with a bike

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    I hate it when posters chime in only to say that the point is moot- but in essence it kinda is. You'll find the answer to this question depends very heavily on whether the person answering it happens to favor Spesh over Giant or vise versa.

    Keep in mind that when Giant initially penned up the Maestro platform for its 2005 model-wide release, it was intended to replace three different platforms that were used in 2004.

    At its core, the Maestro was a dual link design (like the Santa Cruz VPP setup) where a triangulated swingarm rocks on a two levers rather than on a single swingarm pivot. Slight advancements have been made each year but at the end of the day and with so many bike companies moving towards Virtual Pivot linkage, Giant has made the most of a floating pivot. And although the Maestro looks a lot like a VPP, a floating pivot design provides endless suspension possibilities depending on where the pivots are positioned- VPP wheel paths typically follow an S curve while the Maestro's is almost linear.

    Specialized's FSR is a standard 4-bar linkage where the wheel path/ rate of compression of the shock is determined by four fixed pivot locations (main pivot, dropout, seatstay, and linkage).

    The bottom line is that one design isn't simply superior to all others. Each has its strengths and weaknesses depending on factors such as the suspension's state of tune and the conditions it's being used in.

    Your best bet is to test ride each in conditions as close to the trails you frequent and decide for yourself which works better for your needs.
    Ever been to Mountain Bike Tales Digital Magazine? Now if only the print rags would catch on!

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    Caution;  Merge;  Workers Ahead!

    Go with Maestro it is the fundamentally better technology (and doesn't require the Brain device to compensate for suspension bob in an otherwise outdated system) - the best floating (or 'virtual') pivot point design out there (and floating pivot points are definitely better than single pivots). For my money, I would rather the suspension design worked properly in the first place than having to stuff around with shock technology and playing around with propedal-type options. Fundamentals are important, and the frame suspension design is a fundamental, and the shock is otherwise replaceable. This is contrary to the ignorant dichotomy that once existed that some people would prefer single pivot designs because they were 'simpler' than multi-pivot designs. It is not simpler to have to compensate your inferior suspension design with propedal, or in the case of the outdated multi-link FSR design, with a Brain. Use your own brain, educate yourself, try different bikes, then realise your own brain is enough, you don't need to buy another brain, which is dumber than a mouse anyway.

    That is not to say FSR is a bad design or that single pivot designs are bad designs, just that the for my money, Maestro is the market leader because it is a relatively better design. But if you have two good options (Maestro or FSR) more important than differences in suspension design is getting the right fit.

    And for my money, Giant, although I know Maestro is the better suspension design, they don't make a size in between their Medium and Large sizes which fits me, as they do with their road bikes. They call it Medium-Large. I know there are a lot of other people in my position too, and indeed you might be one of them. (No harm in letting the company know btw - a lot of innovation is driven by customers these days.)

    So even though I don't like FSR (or the Brain), the only new bike that fits me at the moment is a Large Stumpjumper. Well, I certainly won't pay for it new because, well, I just don't value it in the same way Specialized pretends it should be valued. So I would not pay more than half price for one. That said, I will probably be waiting for a new bike until Giant finally get around to making a Medium-Large size for their high performance mountain bikes. I certainly don't see the point in wasting money on a bike that does not fit me, or one that I don't like - wouldn't you agree?

    I'm hoping that Giant might release a Medium-Large size in next season's 2010 catalogue (at least) for the carbon Anthem X...

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    I have owned two duallies. The first was a 1997 Mongoose VRS-3 (Variable Rate Suspension) and the second a 2006 model Trance 1. I was very impressed by Maestro, there doesn't seem to be much suspension bob when pedaling and the bike is certainly faster than the Mongoose however there was 9 years difference between the bikes and the Trance was the top of the line so should feel better anyway due to better quality components.

    However the Trance is starting to squeak a lot and as it has done about 50,000km's I have been looking at what I could replace it with (10,000km a year is commuting on road/bike tracks).

    While the maestro uses the suspension design to prevent pedal bob to me is seems to need weight on the seat for it to work. As soon as I lift my bum off the seat to power up a hill it bobs worse than the Mongoose did.

    I had a talk to a guy in a shop that only sells giant and asked him about Merida (another shop with the same name sell Merida but I found out they share advertising but are not owned by the same person an dthis shop only sell giant). My question was why is all my mates raving about Merida when to me it looks like an old design compared to maestro. his reply was interesting, while he said he should push Maestro he personally prefers the other older style single pivot designs for a few reasons.

    1, new shocks means pedal bob is not a major issue any more,
    2, single pivot moves in an arch that feels smoother than maestro,
    3, maestro has more moving parts to wear and possibly fail.

    However he also said Maestro frames have had a few huge improvements in the last year so a new Trance would be lighter and nicer than mine to ride.

    Another interesting note is that at a 24hr race last year I saw three guys lines up with the same bike as mine and all three mentioned they had the frame bearings replaced saying Giants standard bearings are rubbish, wear out too fast and are basicaly cheap and nasty. I have done the checks on mine and it seems fine but as my bike has done a lot of km's maybe that might make a difference.

    Basically I am really happy with my Giant, my only real complaint is the paint work. The bike looks heaps older than my other bikes even though it is heaps newer. The paint is very soft and scratches very easily, being white grease gets into the scratches and the bike looks dirty even after I have given it a really good clean.

    Regardless of what you chose you should be happy as bikes seem to have improved heaps over the last few years. The most important thing is to get the right size.

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    i have a giant trance and all i can say is awsome the suspension works so well when you need it and its very light ,i have the 2007 model from pauls cycles 587

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    Quote Originally Posted by chris-crisis
    While the maestro uses the suspension design to prevent pedal bob to me is seems to need weight on the seat for it to work. As soon as I lift my bum off the seat to power up a hill it bobs worse than the Mongoose did.

    .....

    Regardless of what you chose you should be happy as bikes seem to have improved heaps over the last few years. The most important thing is to get the right size.
    Sorry for the cut and paste, but these were the two that I wanted to get at.

    For me, the Maestro felt better in the seat, not too much better but I did notice it, however, I could tell a difference when I stood to pedal as well, that could have been a shock difference more so than a suspension linkage difference (note, I wasn't riding a brain).

    But in the end, suspension linkage should be a second issue. A bike that fits properly is #1, if it doesn't fit right, then you can complain about another companies bike that does fit right but you think that its suspension is crap ...

    In the end will you really care a whole lot about the suspension design? Are you going to lose sleep if you end up preferring the FSR design but a Giant fits you better (or vice versa)? Get the bike that fits and feels best, only you can judge that.
    Just another redneck with a bike

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    Yes with my '06 Trance I've found that it wore the shock bushings (little sleeve that slots into the shock eyelet - can't think of the proper name) in what seemed like a short time - somewhere between 6-12 months but with only a few hours of riding each week.

    I really enjoyed that bike and as it was my first dually I found it took a lot more time to maintain (washing all the nooks and crannies for starters!). Oh and the wheel path, yes the whole rearwood thing did actually annoy me, when you're climbing up a hill and going slowly then your back wheel hits a largeish rock and goes in a backwards path, I found that I felt like the bike was getting "hung up" rather than forward momentum being encouraged. Sure the benefit might be grip but in that situation I'd probably prefer how a HT just rools straight over.

    But like some people have said, you will find benefits and drawbacks in any design. I guess alot comes down to how you ride.

    Right now the dually I ride is a single pivot DH bike (orange 222). But I can say that Specializeds "brain" and other proprietary parts would certainly turn me off and I'd be looking at Giant and any other options - probably Norco and whatever else was around the price range.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ducktape
    Yes with my '06 Trance I found it took a lot more time to maintain (washing all the nooks and crannies for starters!).
    I totally agree with this. Sorry if it looks like I have cut and paste to change your post but I think this is a valid point. I find I am cleaning my bike all the time and never getting it looking great. The main issue that has been addressed in later Giant Trances is the shock being stuck where it can get covered in dirt but hard to get to for cleaning. (later models have it higher up the frame). The other issue is all the linkages at the back. Doesn't help that I am running stans and when I get a puncture it often sprays on the bike and really sticks to the paint, often around the front derailuer and pivot points and is hard to get to and clean off.

    However I love riding it and use it for commuting 38km a day on tar during the week, and on the weekend it hits the dirt for riding with mates, riding with my kids and for XC racing. (Nearly every sunday afternoon is maintenance time). Happy to have a bike that can do all that well.

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    You gotta test ride both! But here's one thing I noticed as a big difference. Been an FSR fan for years, but since hopping on the Anthem I've noticed a huge difference in climbing traction on loose, rocky ground. That Maestro floating point (those bottom pivots) holds the stiff rear steady no matter what angle/sag the bike position is. Axle path is slightly to the rear then straight up. I noticed much less skipping of the rear end, whether seated or off the saddle. This is a radical change, and no loss of momentum! Very impressed!!

    Here is my sweet Anthem 1
    Last edited by aohammer; 03-17-2009 at 06:09 AM.

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    I actually tested out the ease of climbing (riding) a hill on a my Trance and on a Giant Alias (so entry level dually vs entry level HT pretty much). I think both bikes were roughly the same weight too (around the 13kg mark). I know this is a bit OT but I found that with the trance you could sit in the saddle and basically spin up the hill, and stay seated for longer, so in some ways it was more efficient than a HT because you would have more energy when you reach the top.
    So you have more traction because of the suspension, but since the trance seems to like being climbed whilst seated I think that also accounts for more of the traction (more weight over the rear) as well . . . if that makes sense. No idea how the specialized would compare.

    But yeah for those that don't like cleaning I guess you would look for a hardtail or a single pivot!

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    Another point. I find the Trance quite stable and has been told this is due to longer wheel base than most other duallies. However the down side is that it is supposed to be harder to ride around tight switch backs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chris-crisis
    Another point. I find the Trance quite stable and has been told this is due to longer wheel base than most other duallies. However the down side is that it is supposed to be harder to ride around tight switch backs.
    I agree with you there, and the cornering thing I think was highlighted when I bumped up the fork travel on my Trance to 130 and put a short stem on. At the time I thought it was just my cornering technique, but having now ridden other bikes the trance didn't seem to corner all that well- however I still think it was partly my skill (or lack of). I have to give it credit in that it still climbed well and the front wheel didnt want to lift up (but wasn't hard to manual either).

  22. #22
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    I've on my fifth Maestro bike now and have really enjoyed them all. I started with the original Trance, then two Anthems, then a Trance X and now the Anthem X (I used to work at a Giant dealer). The reason the maestro bikes bob when standing is related to the suspension action being so independent to the drivetrain. When you stand and mash the pedals, your weight bounces up and down, compressing the suspension. The only time I find myself needing to stand is on steep technical climbs. The technique I've found to work best on technical climbs is to climb like you are hiking up rocky stair-steps. Once you get the feel of the motion of the bike and the spacing of the wheels, the Maestro suspension gives you all the traction you could ask for.
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  23. #23
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    Sorta....

    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus
    They are both good. Specialized gives you a lifetime warranty and has good CS as well. I am not sure what Giant offers.
    Specialized has a lifetime warranty on the frame, but they only consider the front triangle 'Frame'. The rear triangle is considered 'suspension linkage' and is under a 1 year warranty... including cracks. Ugh. Guess which part of the frame breaks first?

    IIRC, Giant is lifetime on everything, but I could be wrong. Everything would probably not include suspension pivot bearings.

    That said, I love FSR suspension, even Specialized's flavor of FSR. It just rolls like butter, especially over uphill slow rocks.

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    Old thread, but let's bump it up a notch.

    I am really split between the 2011 Anthem X, 2011 Trance X and the 2011 Stumpjumper FSR Comp Carbon.

    I live in southern France, and a lot of the time, the trails that make a hardtail too harsh, are filled with fist sized sharp rocks, either loose or well planted in the ground. Big rocks or roots account for a negligibly small part of the challenging terrain.

    The most demanding climbs have the same kind of surface, and often require the ability to not lose climbing momentum despite having to actively steer while going up.

    In this thread, some people have accredited the simpler FSR linkage design to better roll over obstacles on climbs, while the Maestro would get hung up.

    I have owned 2 FSR full sussers ('04 Enduro and '05 S-works Stumpy 120)... 1 Cannondale Rush (Never again C-dale single pivot!!!) and 2 Anthems. ('07 Anthem Advanced and '08 Anthem custom build).

    Out of all the mountain bikes that I have owned, the only ones that I never regretted at any point, were the two Anthems.

    This year, it seems to me that all-mountain bikes are weight wise getting very close to XC-full suspensions bikes.

    For a budget of about 3500 €, I could upgrade a '11 Stumpy FSR Comp Carbon to under 11kg, while the same budget would get me an Anthem X or Trance X with less travel, aluminum frame and just a tiny bit lighter bike.

    My main question is... Is Brain a necessity with the FSR, or is the Triad II shock a major improvement over the previous Triad?

    Anyone who made the switch lately to FSR, and not regret having done it?

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    I have owned both brands but the older bike has seen a huge improvement in suspension (Maestro) components and geometry so I can't speak to the newer Giant or VPP bikes.

    My Giant is a VT from 2003 that I have built up. It has the stock Swinger SPV shock that is supposed to help with bob. I still feel bob with this bike/shock setup.

    This year I bought a Specialized Pitch Pro and have been riding and loving every minute. It is a superior frame and suspension to my VT. I don't feel bob when climbing with this bike 90% of the time. If I am up out of the saddle and really cranking then it will do some. It came with the Fox Float RP2 with ProPedal but i have yet to actually turn on the ProPedal option. It just doesn't need it. Fork is a coil Rock Shox Pike 351 (made to Specialized specs by RS). I would probably rather have a true Pike from RS but really have had no complaints for this fork yet. It seems that Spec is trying to get away from some of the proprietary 'in house' parts save for the smaller things and tires. It has a Spec headset, grips, tires and frame. All else is outsourced.

    This bike works so well with braking/accelerating without lockup. It just keeps that back wheel in contact with the ground all the time and the Fox shock does its part very well.

    I find nothing relating to the older "brain" that used to come with some Specialized FSR bikes. Unless they no longer market it and have hidden it inside a chain stay, it is not on my bike.

    I would like to compare the Maestro against what I have in the FSR suspension but don't have anyone with a Giant that I could put through the paces. Don't really feel the need to drop cash for a comparison either.

    Strangely, I feel that if I rode the Giant I would probably come off the ride thinking that they both are very similar in ride quality. This is just a gut feeling.

    I have absolutely no regrets going to the FSR suspension on the newer Specialized bikes. In fact I'm loving my choice!

    I ride mainly FR/Trail riding with my favorites being shuttle runs like National on South Mountain in Phoenix. Most of the trails I ride out here are a mix of uphill to get to the fun stuff!

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