Help me pick my next bike, quality HT or FS?
OK, I know that's a generic title, but I have a fairly specific question. Currently, I ride a Bikes direct 29er HT
29ER Mountain Bikes - MTB - Windsor Cliff 29Comp
It's served me well as a recreation bike, but I've started getting pretty serious about my riding and it's limitations are becoming more pronounced. I'm in GA and my trails are singletrack with short climbs and descents with some roots and rocks. I don't see myself doing races or extreme drops. I'm into my 40's now and just ride for fitness, fun, and recreation. This bike I'm riding now is beating me to death though. I find I prefer sitting for most of my ride over standing and I ride for about 1.5 hours each day.
I said all that to say this. I'm getting ready to drop some cash on a new bike, 3-4k. I'm looking at a Trek Fuel 29er or FS superfly because they seem like the right bike for me. Thing is, those bikes just don't excite me. A chromoly HT, like a Niner SIR built up the way i want does. I'm just worried that a better fork on chromoly won't be enough of a better ride and will still beat me up. Has anyone gone from a mid-level HT to a really nice one and had a better, more comfy ride?
I'm bias to a longer travel, regardless of the wheel sizes. Though, I have a few XC FS, 4" travel, I think 4.5"+ is more versatile than the shorter ones especially for recreational riding. I'm not loosing the ability to climb or carry more weight.
My choice in that price range would be, Trek Rumblefish, Giant Trance, Niner Rip9. If you can somehow find a few more bucks then this would be the ultimate, well for me anyways. I rode all 3 of them and I like them all, I had a Rip9, I loved it. I've never been on the Ripley yet, but I have no doubt that it would be a b!tchen ride.
Ripley 29 | Bikes | Ibis Cycles US
I'm sure you can find this very close to your budget as well
2012 Pivot Mach 429 - 2012 - Competitive Cyclist
Also the Santa Cruz Tallboy LT, starting at around $3200 alu, and 4200 carbon.
If you are going to spend that kind of money might as well shop around for the best one for the buck. Focus on the frame and design, not the components, a bad bike design usually packaged with good sounding components to make them appear like a good deal, but it's not.
I would add that bikes are starting to go on sale as new bikes come out. One local store sold their demo bikes last week, tallboys were 1799, anthem, 1699 etc.
This opinion brought to you from another 40-something rider: A "plain" SLX or X7 full suspension bike is worlds better than a blinged out XTR/ XO hardtail that beats the snot out of me.
Appreciate that. That's what I needed to hear
I'm in Atlanta and I see a 5 inch bike with a bit slacker geometry as a great all around ride for our trails. If you head up north a bigger bike can serve a purpose.
Check out Specialized SJ 29r, look at the Yetis at Fresh Bikes in Roswell and also check out the fleet up at Reality Bikes in Cumming. That should give you a good mix of rides to test. Niner is sold at a lot of our shops too.
There is no need for a true 6 inch bike around here but they're fun to ride none the less. My Yeti ASR5 is the perfect bike for the GA trails.
Also, check out the SORBA forum. Lots of nice used bikes hit that sites sales board.
I'm 43. I've ridden once in GA. Lots of sharp rocks around there. But elevation-wise, wasn't too terrible. I kept up with some locals on a borrowed HT. But that was with me dancing with the bike quite a bit.
If that doesn't sound like your style of riding, definitely opt for an FS bike. I picked up a quality FS bike a while back and that really got me into riding the trails more. Then I got to a point in my fitness and skill where I felt like the FS was lacking something and I went to a rigid single speed 29-er.
Now I'm on a 26" long travel steel HT built exactly the way I want it from all the hours of riding the local (and out of state) trails.
If you play golf, think of a cheap HT as the used set of blades you bought at Play It Again Sports to get you started. Then you picked up a moderately priced set of cavity backs with graphite shaft as you got out onto the field (the FS bike). Then you get really serious and start getting good. And you move back to a quality blade with steel shaft for the feel.
But if I were to start riding with a group of folks that are signifcantly faster or my fitness drops off or I'm doing more epic rides, I'd probably go back to an FS bike...
If you want to keep with the 29er, then a 110-130mm travel full suspension bike should be adequate. A few to choose from are the
Specialized Camber: Specialized Bicycle Components
Trek Fuel EX 29er: Fuel EX 7 29 - Trek Bicycle
Scott Genius 970: SCOTT Genius 940 Bike - SCOTT Sports
The Specialized has 110mm, Trek has 120mm, Scott has 130mm. If you plan to ride bumpier trails, then you will want suspension, but it all depends on how long you will ride those trails each time and how hard you will try to go faster.
All those bikes sell for around the same price. ($2600)
Big Wheels Keep On Rolling
I think that if a hardtail like the SIR excites you more than the normal slate of the big name dualies, you might want to check into custom. At least, that's what I'd do if I had your budget. A custom steel or ti hardtail will ride much nicer than your current bike, which is a fairly generic design.
I noticed a big difference going from an alum HT to a fairly low-end 4130 chromo HT. Not like having rear suspension - you feel the bumps but they beat you up less and you feel less sore at the end of the ride. That's my experience at least. I imagine that a really nice air-hardened steel or ti frame would be that much better. A ti seatpost would smooth it out even more.
I don't know a whole lot about custom frames. Ti might be a stretch for $4K, but steel should definitely be doable. Just a thought.
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