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  1. #1
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    Should I go HT or FS, any HT to FS converts out there?

    I have a good sized budget for a new bike. I'd be thrilled to limit it to $3500 but will happily spend $5000 if it's the right bike. I plan to get a 29er. I'm tall - 6'3" and weigh around 185 lbs. in peak condition. I'm about 5 lbs. over that right now.

    I have ridden hard tail exclusively for 20 years, and Spec pretty much regularly throughout that period. But my next bike will not be a Spec for reasons I won't go into on this particular thread.

    I ride at least 50% on hard surfaces like asphalt road and hard pack. Roads near me are typically poor with imperfections and pot holes due to winter climate. The other 50% is tow path, fire road, gravel, and off road single track trail.

    Classify me as no longer an active racing enthusiast, more of a fit enthusiast who prefers XC style off road, but works out on road regularly because I can't always get to a trail during the week. I also train indoors year round. When I ride trail, I prefer XC type speed and workout rather than exploring logs, drops, etc. In fact, I don't really like jumps beyond a couple feet, and even then... not my thing.

    So, should I stick with HT, or get a 'do everything" FS style bike. I want to get a really good bang for my buck and will tend to stick with this next bike for quite some time, unless I make some tragic mistake and buy something completely wrong. But let's say I'm trying to avoid that scenario.

    Without soliciting every conceivable brand as a recommendation, I can divulge I'm leaning toward Yeti, Santa Cruz, and Ellsworth.

    Models I'm considering include the Yeti Big Top, Santa Cruz Tallboy and Highball, Ellsworth Enlightenment and Evolve. Feel free to suggest something that fits my profile and budget especially if I'm really missing the boat.

    But I'd really like to get solid opinions on HT or FS, especially since bike technology has come a long way in the last 8-10 years. It will also be my first 29er.

    Last edited by Aikea Guinea; 05-19-2011 at 08:46 AM.

  2. #2
    jct
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    i've been riding steel hardtails for the past 15 years all throughout colorado and now california. my latest HT is an Indy Fab steel deluxe 26".

    i'm also 6'3" and about 220# ready to ride. i picked up a giant anthem x 29 x2 2 months ago because i wanted to try big wheels and FS. why not kill 2 birds? now that my honeymoon period is over with the 29er( i no longer clean it after every ride nor stare longingly in it's direction when it's in the garage), i can honestly say that big wheels and FS are pretty focking awesome to ride. my trails are mostly XC in the santa cruz area with plenty of ups and downs and i consider myself a rubber side down type of guy.

    on the big wheel FS, i can ride faster and longer and my lower back no longer takes a pounding. what really gets me is the climbing. i can sit and plow up tech climbs. compared to my HT, it's only about 1.5# heavier.

    my HT still gets the love for the lunch time quick rides at ft ord, the FS 29er gets the call for the all day epics.

    i think if you decide on a FS 29er at your budget, it's gonna be tough to go wrong as you'll find a number of great rides. you'll have regret if you get a HT when you think you think you should have gotten a HT or vice versa.

    edit to add: one thing that took some time to get used to is all the extra noise that comes from a FS compared to a HT. pops, clicks, creaks etc.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by jct
    i've been riding steel hardtails for the past 15 years all throughout colorado and now california. my latest HT is an Indy Fab steel deluxe 26".

    i'm also 6'3" and about 220# ready to ride. i picked up a giant anthem x 29 x2 2 months ago because i wanted to try big wheels and FS. why not kill 2 birds? now that my honeymoon period is over with the 29er( i no longer clean it after every ride nor stare longingly in it's direction when it's in the garage), i can honestly say that big wheels and FS are pretty focking awesome to ride. my trails are mostly XC in the santa cruz area with plenty of ups and downs and i consider myself a rubber side down type of guy.

    on the big wheel FS, i can ride faster and longer and my lower back no longer takes a pounding. what really gets me is the climbing. i can sit and plow up tech climbs. compared to my HT, it's only about 1.5# heavier.

    my HT still gets the love for the lunch time quick rides at ft ord, the FS 29er gets the call for the all day epics.

    i think if you decide on a FS 29er at your budget, it's gonna be tough to go wrong as you'll find a number of great rides. you'll have regret if you get a HT when you think you think you should have gotten a HT or vice versa.

    edit to add: one thing that took some time to get used to is all the extra noise that comes from a FS compared to a HT. pops, clicks, creaks etc.
    Thanks, your post has been helpful. Lucky you, living near Santa Cruz! It's my favorite place in California. I always made time to drive down there when I went out to SF / SJ area. Beautiful area, and a cool scene altogether. Not too far from Big Sur either.

    If I go FS, I'm definitely leaning toward the SC Tallboy. It seems like many use it as the go anywhere bike. I'm just hoping that it would also suffice for road rides / workouts when I just can't get to a trail. If the lockout lets me basically ride it on hard surfaces like my HT, then it will probably be perfect.
    Last edited by Aikea Guinea; 05-19-2011 at 05:10 PM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aikea Guinea
    Thanks, your post has been helpful. Lucky you, living near Santa Cruz! It's my favorite place in California. I always made time to drive down there when I went out to SF / SJ area. Beautiful area, and a cool scene altogether. Not too far from Big Sur either.

    If I go FS, I'm definitely leaning toward the SC Tallboy. It seems like many use it as the go anywhere bike. I'm just hoping that it would also suffice for road rides / workouts when I just can't get to a trail. If the lockout lets me basically ride it on hard surfaces like my HT, then it will probably be perfect.

    You are not keeping the current bike you have now? If so your hardtail can do the job of paved surface riding and leave the off road to the new bike.

    At 6'3" you are not going to have any problems with any 29er fitting. Tallboy is highly recommended. You may want to look at Spider 29(XC) or Tracer VP 29(AM) as well as Niner Jet9 or Rip9. I owned a Rip9 and it's a lot of fun for most situations depending on the tires. Another good 29er choice would be the Gary Fisher/Trek G2 geometry they handle very well. My 29er experience is limited to a few brands as not all small frames fit a 5'7" well.

    It's best to try them out see what fit you best and also allow for some change in the future. A die-hard XC buddy of mine went from HT to a 5" FS, just in a few months he dramatically changes his riding style. Now he prefers a rougher more technical trail up or down, he does not jump or do big drops just ride more technical line and rockier trails, he even sprang for flat pedals and a pair of five.ten.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mimi1885
    You are not keeping the current bike you have now? If so your hardtail can do the job of paved surface riding and leave the off road to the new bike.

    At 6'3" you are not going to have any problems with any 29er fitting. Tallboy is highly recommended. You may want to look at Spider 29(XC) or Tracer VP 29(AM) as well as Niner Jet9 or Rip9. I owned a Rip9 and it's a lot of fun for most situations depending on the tires. Another good 29er choice would be the Gary Fisher/Trek G2 geometry they handle very well. My 29er experience is limited to a few brands as not all small frames fit a 5'7" well.

    It's best to try them out see what fit you best and also allow for some change in the future. A die-hard XC buddy of mine went from HT to a 5" FS, just in a few months he dramatically changes his riding style. Now he prefers a rougher more technical trail up or down, he does not jump or do big drops just ride more technical line and rockier trails, he even sprang for flat pedals and a pair of five.ten.
    I'm going to keep my existing HT, but I would prefer that my new purchase also be able to cover my weekday road / urban ride workouts with minimal frustration in handling. My initial impression was just to buy another HT, but reading and researching has lead me to wonder if a quality FS would cover what I do now and allow me some further versatility on the trail too. It seems FS technology has really advanced in terms of lower weight and lockout options, but I'm hoping to get confirmation or rejection of that from experienced HT --> FS converts and those who went back to HT.

    I'll check out your recommendations too. Thanks!
    Last edited by Aikea Guinea; 05-19-2011 at 05:50 PM.

  6. #6
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    I think you should buy a road bike along with your new full suspension for the trails. You'll enjoy your road and offroad riding more with the correct bikes for the surfaces.
    Get your 3500$ fs and a 1200$ road machine.

  7. #7
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    singletrack trail

    what kind of single track are you riding? From the sounds of it you might enjoy a cross bike and depending on the trails you ride a HT. I ride very a large variety of trails in the SE from the buffer trail centers in georgia and tennessee, to the tech rocky stuff in NC. what kind of terrain would you consider your most demanding and what do you ride the majority of the time?
    I just sold my Tallboy and have a highball waiting on a fork

    I like HT's

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by velez3000
    what kind of single track are you riding? From the sounds of it you might enjoy a cross bike and depending on the trails you ride a HT. I ride very a large variety of trails in the SE from the buffer trail centers in georgia and tennessee, to the tech rocky stuff in NC. what kind of terrain would you consider your most demanding and what do you ride the majority of the time?
    I just sold my Tallboy and have a highball waiting on a fork

    I like HT's
    I'm also very curious about the Highball. Early reviews say it is a little harsh for a carbon frame though.

    The single track is is mostly xc with several rooty sections, not much rocky nor very much technical ups / downs, but it does get hilly in areas. I would say I mostly ride flowing fire road type stuff and hard surfaces the most.

    Tell me more about what you liked and didn't like about the Tallboy, especially regarding hard surfaces. Does the propedal work pretty well for longer stretches of road? Some guys are describing it as like an HT in this regard. Do you agree?
    Last edited by Aikea Guinea; 05-20-2011 at 07:08 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ratmonkey
    I think you should buy a road bike along with your new full suspension for the trails. You'll enjoy your road and offroad riding more with the correct bikes for the surfaces.
    Get your 3500$ fs and a 1200$ road machine.
    This is a good suggestion. Though I have owned and ridden several, I just don't like nor enjoy road bikes. I prefer something a little more solid for the poorly maintained roads, and something that still allows me to explore the many trails we have throughout our park systems. I have found that when I have ridden a road bike, there were many times I wanted to cut through a trail section to other hard surfaces, fire roads and additional asphalt beyond the trails. I also suffer through many an unpleasant ride on crappy roads.

    So basically, a road bike is out. I want to get one really nice bike that will adequately cover my needs. I don't need to be the fastest guy on the road, but nevertheless my strength and fitness often have me blowing past the fully spandex geared road guys on a 35 lb. 'loaded for xc touring' HT. That is just to say I haven't felt I needed a road bike lately for any purpose, but on the flip side of the coin, if an FS like the Tallboy is going to fight me on long stretches of road, then maybe HT would be better.

    Thanks for the suggestion. It always helps to step back and reevaluate.

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