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  1. #1
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    Steel Hardtail Decisions

    I've been researching steel hardtail mountain bikes and I've narrowed my search to the following. I'm a heavier rider at around 300lbs getting back into riding. I need a versatile bike mainly for singletrack and some roots and rocks. Most trails are equal up and down so I need a climber and descender. Budget is under $2500. I'm considering both 29r and 27+.

    Current choices:

    * Guerrilla Gravity Pedalhead 29r
    Ride2 build: NX with Raceface Aeffect Crank STEM and bars, upgrade to Pike RC or MRP Ribbon 130mm and 29r Maxxis Ardent 2.4mm
    Advantages: USA built frame, great warranty, threaded BB
    Disadvantages: Concerns about low bottom bracket but appears main issues are with 27.5+ builds. 29r with large profile appear adequate clearance

    *Kona Honzo Steel 29r
    Build: SLX or GX, Pike RC, Revelation or Yari 130mm, Stans rims with Maxxis Ardent 2.4mm
    Advantages: Large company backing with lifetime frame warranty. Kona is known to have great customer service.
    Disadvantages: Probably heaviest frame at 7lbs+

    *Jamis Dragonslayer Pro 2018 27.5+
    Build: (prelim info from Google search)-GX Eagle 12spd with SRAM Truvativ Stylo Crank, WTB Scrapper rims with 3.0mm Vittoria Cannoli tires, Reynolds 520 tubes, Fox 34mm Rhythm fork. * probably upgrade the tires to something lighter.
    Advantages: Good build spec with GX Eagle
    Disadvantages: Probably heavy, but may be better with better tires

    * Advocate Hayduke 27.5+
    Build: XT der and shifters, FSA Crank, WTB Scrapper rims with 2.8 Ranger TCS Light tires, Fox 34 Performance or Yari fork 130mm
    Advantages: Reynolds 725 Steel, less aggressive geometry maybe better for local trails, advocacy
    Disadvantages: 5yr warranty, company isn't as well known. Not a lot of info out there, press fit bottom brackets known for creaking (though BB92's seem to be better)

    * Soma Valhallen 27.5+
    Build: SLX or GX drivetrain, Pike RC 130mm or Yari, decent rims and tires.
    Advantages: New frame on market from a growing company, Tange tubing.
    Disadvantages: Not a lot of reviews yet, press fit BB (though BB92's appear ok)

    In terms of popularity the Pedalhead and the Honzo ST have the largest following but looking for real life points for a singletrack and trail machine.

    Jon

  2. #2
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    I would go by the one that has the best geometry that you like for your riding area. I like the new geometry,, slack head angles, which all of these seem to have. Great for when the trail turns downhill. All seem to be fantastic bikes. No wrong choice among them. Maybe the lightest build?
    Last edited by Conan@; 12-29-2017 at 12:57 AM.

  3. #3
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    My guess is the Soma or Pedalhead will be lightest as they are builds with 6lb frames. Weight isn't the only concern though. I've also looked at the Mottobecane Titanium bike that is full XT and has the 27.5+ tires. It's wierd as it only has a Rockshox SID 100mm fork but ensuring else is the stratosphere in terms of build. Thought I could ride as is or try trading the SID for a Yari or Revelation 130mm. I'm also considering the Heller Shagamaw GX1 build that's GX 1x11 with Rockshox Revelation 130mm and the frame is carbon.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiker74 View Post
    My guess is the Soma or Pedalhead will be lightest as they are builds with 6lb frames. Weight isn't the only concern though. I've also looked at the Mottobecane Titanium bike that is full XT and has the 27.5+ tires. It's wierd as it only has a Rockshox SID 100mm fork but ensuring else is the stratosphere in terms of build. Thought I could ride as is or try trading the SID for a Yari or Revelation 130mm. I'm also considering the Heller Shagamaw GX1 build that's GX 1x11 with Rockshox Revelation 130mm and the frame is carbon.
    I own a steel Honzo as well as a GG Pistola (FS). Both Kona and GG make good frames; I don’t have experience with the others on your list but all sound like capable machines.

    I weigh 2/3rds what you do and my Honzo’s weight doesn’t bother me at all because the bike fits me so well. Feels playful and capable. I have a couple Revelatlion forks (as well as a couple Pikes and a Fox 36). At your weight I’d def look for a fork with 35-36mm stanchions. I also think you’ll be happiest with Plus wheels & tires, minimum 2.6” wide tires. I’m a 29” wheel fan but that’s all you. I’m 6’2” tall so free to enjoy the benefits of wagon wheels.

    IMO a 1-by drivetrain is the only way to go. Install your dropper lever where your front shifter would have been had you invested in gearing that’s become passé. I employ my dropper more than I shift gears. Trust me, the southpaw location is the spot. One more piece of advice: don’t skimp on your brakes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparticus View Post
    I own a steel Honzo as well as a GG Pistola (FS). Both Kona and GG make good frames; I don’t have experience with the others on your list but all sound like capable machines.

    I weigh 2/3rds what you do and my Honzo’s weight doesn’t bother me at all because the bike fits me so well. Feels playful and capable. I have a couple Revelatlion forks (as well as a couple Pikes and a Fox 36). At your weight I’d def look for a fork with 35-36mm stanchions. I also think you’ll be happiest with Plus wheels & tires, minimum 2.6” wide tires. I’m a 29” wheel fan but that’s all you. I’m 6’2” tall so free to enjoy the benefits of wagon wheels.

    IMO a 1-by drivetrain is the only way to go. Install your dropper lever where your front shifter would have been had you invested in gearing that’s become passé. I employ my dropper more than I shift gears. Trust me, the southpaw location is the spot. One more piece of advice: don’t skimp on your brakes.
    =sParty
    I agree. I would lean towards the Pedalhead with the Ribbon, 1x, and a strong wheelset (something like a spank 345 or Dt Swiss Ex511). You are big, and will need the extra beefy components to not break things or flex the hell out of them (just a fact of life, I am 235, so understand).


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  6. #6
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    I got a great reassuring email back from MRP about my weight and application. The MRP forks take air in both legs but it's not much of a deal especially for being on a hardtail as they recommended same psi to start.

  7. #7
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    It's a good list, minor tradeoffs depending on what you want to get out of it. I'm a big fan of Honzo geometry, I have one on order for this spring.
    Rigid SS 29er
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    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

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    The Jamis Dragonslayer Pro is going to be worth a hard look. The 2018 version will have GX Eagle and a Fox 34 Rhythm along with a dropper. MSRP is under what I'm getting on build quotes. The Pedalhead is also still in the running. I also started looking at the Niner Sir9 but the builds are pretty expensive and then there's the whole wierd bottom bracket thing.

    I've been told that for press fit BB's the most dependable are BB92's.

    I'm awaiting a quote on the Soma Valhallen but I wish there were more reviews out there.

    The Kona steel Honzo is still intriguing though although the frame is heavy

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiker74 View Post
    The Kona steel Honzo is still intriguing though although the frame is heavy
    Get over it. I promise the Kona won't be more than a pound different than anything else on your list. You'll never know it's there. And if you want to get that pound back, build some wheels. That's a much better place to save weight.

    (I'm not saying the Kona is the best frame, or the right bike for you, but rather the .5-.75 lbs on a 28+ lb hardtail is completely irrelevant.)
    Rigid SS 29er
    Fat Lefty
    SS MonsterCross
    SS cyclocross
    all steel

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  10. #10
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    Good point

  11. #11
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    So I've narrowed this list down further

    * Guerrilla Gravity Pedalhead 29r
    Ride2 build with Upgrade to GX/E*Thirteen 9-46 Extended Range Cassette with Raceface Aeffect Crank STEM and bars (they've said that they have some red Atlas bars which i'd probably request), Keeping the SR Suntour Aion Fork to keep the costs down and 29r Maxxis Ardent 2.4mm
    Advantages: USA built frame, great warranty, threaded BB
    Disadvantages: Concerns about low bottom bracket but appears main issues are with 27.5+ builds. 29r with large profile appear adequate clearance

    *Jamis Dragonslayer Pro 2018 27.5+
    Build: (prelim info from Google search)-GX Eagle 12spd with SRAM Truvativ Stylo Crank, WTB Scrapper rims with 3.0mm Vittoria Cannoli tires, Reynolds 520 tubes, Fox 34mm Rhythm fork. * probably upgrade the tires to something lighter.
    Advantages: Good build spec with GX Eagle
    Disadvantages: Probably heavy, but may be better with better tires

    * Advocate Hayduke 27.5+
    Build: Not sure what the 2018 builds will look like, but it appears they will be a good value for top notch equipment
    Advantages: Reynolds 725 Steel, less aggressive geometry maybe better for local trails, advocacy
    Disadvantages: 5yr warranty, company isn't as well known. Not a lot of info out there, press fit bottom brackets known for creaking (though BB92's seem to be better)

    I've also started to consider a full suspension bike. The YT Jeffsy is under $2300 and comes with the TRS 9-46 Cassette, FOx Suspension (Rhythm and DPS Shock). WIth Shipping and taxes it would still be under $2500. Another bike that is interesting is the 2017 Diamondback Catch 2 as Aventuron has them on sale for under $2100. It has a Pike and Monarch shock and GX drivetrain. Seems like a good value.

    I still like the simplicity of the hardtails though

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiker74 View Post
    The Jamis Dragonslayer Pro is going to be worth a hard look. The 2018 version will have GX Eagle and a Fox 34 Rhythm along with a dropper. MSRP is under what I'm getting on build quotes. The Pedalhead is also still in the running. I also started looking at the Niner Sir9 but the builds are pretty expensive and then there's the whole wierd bottom bracket thing.

    I've been told that for press fit BB's the most dependable are BB92's.

    I'm awaiting a quote on the Soma Valhallen but I wish there were more reviews out there.

    The Kona steel Honzo is still intriguing though although the frame is heavy
    A 300# guy worried about a pound here or there on a bike? C'mon man - I weigh maybe 190# and I can lose a pound before I even leave the house in the morning. And, in all seriousness, all my light parts broke a long time ago.

    I did demo the Dragonslayer. It is a really nice bike - specifically the frame. I like how it handled, both in cornering and in the up-and-down, and it has that nice steel feel (in spite of the + tires), but personally I am still not sold on plus tires. Also, I demoed the large frame, but I probably should have demoed the XL. Def. a bike worthy of upgrades, although the pro build is already pretty nice.

    I am no longer a Niner fan.

    I don't think you could go wrong with the Honzo. You might benefit from a beefier frame.

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  13. #13
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    The Dragonslayer Pro 27.5+ is probably the most intriguing. I'm not too concerned about weight. I have however been reading that 3" tires may be a little too wide and 2.8's are the sweet spot for Plus bikes, so what I might do and given I can get a good deal on a Dragonslayer is to put the money back (that was my budget-what I get the pricing for) and either get some 2.8's if the Vittorias don't cut it in terms of rolling resistance, etc.

    I might also be able to get a good deal on a 29'r wheelset and give that a try on the Dragonslayer Pro

    I'm still not keen on buying a bike without riding it..even though theres really no negativity going on about the Pedalhead...Its still going to be $200-300 more than what I can get the Dragonslayer for

    Jon

  14. #14
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    Picked up a Dragonslayer almost 2 years ago. Switched out to a set of 2.8” Rekon's about six months ago… was a little surprised, what a major difference it made- dropped about a pound, better traction and sharping steering response.

    Just picked up a set of I9 Trail 245 on close out, set them up this weekend and will get my first ride on it next weekend… that dropped another 1.7 pounds.

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    Are the I9's 29'r rims? If so i'd be interested to see how 29" 2.4" width tires would do on the Dragonslayer

  16. #16
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    Don't discount a good Alu AM HT i.e. Nukeproof Scout ;-)

    An awesome whip, for sure ^^

    'We'll all make it to the top... Some of us, might not make it to the bottom'
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    I keep hearing that the rear end of the Scout is really rough, i.e. not a lot of compliance

  18. #18
    lb2
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    Yup, they are 29’ers, set up with Maxxis Forekaster 2.35” up front and a Rekon 2.25” in back.

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    I really like the Jamis Dragonslayer. I bought a fat bike instead of a plus, but my next bike is probably going to be the Jamis. With 30 pound steel plus bikes out there, I'm surprised anyone would even look at aluminum. What's the weight penalty, a pound? If that?

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    Let me know your thoughts on this. I found a decent 29" set online that was reasonable. I'd try less rolling resistance 27.5+ first before the investment though

    Found this set online. These are probably pretty tough given that they are intended for Enduro
    https://www.worldwidecyclery.com/pro...yABEgIRovD_BwE
    Jon
    Last edited by Hiker74; 3 Weeks Ago at 01:06 PM. Reason: add

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    Have you looked at a Chromag Rootdown,i had one for a while and it was a great steel do it all bike.

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    Yeah just did. Minimum cost is $3100 and that's a Taiwan frame not BC. Pretty steep

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiker74 View Post
    I keep hearing that the rear end of the Scout is really rough, i.e. not a lot of compliance
    A good rear wheel/tyre combo... & you're sweet ;-)

    Plus, we're taking hard tails here. How much compliance are you expecting? ;-P

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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by lb2 View Post
    Yup, they are 29’ers, set up with Maxxis Forekaster 2.35” up front and a Rekon 2.25” in back.
    Huh...???

    I'm currently running a 2.35 Hans Dampf & 2.35 Panaracer Rampage on mine & it's cushy enough.

    With a boost fork, you could easily run 2.6 tyres. Make a real All Mountain ripper ^^

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  25. #25
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    For the 27.5+ am running the 2.8" Rekons. As a 29er am fine trying out the "smaller" sizes. Didn't go with very wide ID rims for the 29er plus going with 2.6" gets me in the range of what I got going with the 27.5+ wheels... not what I'm looking for with this setup.

  26. #26
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    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  27. #27
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    Actually, a whole frikin lot Seriously, if you haven't owned and ridden a steel HT, then you have no voice in this discussion, if you had, you would know and understand. Granted any frame can be made to be harsh, just it's much easier with alu. The difference between my alu and steel bikes is AMAZING, won't ever ride another alu HT again and most definitely not with regular size tyres.

    Quote Originally Posted by targnik View Post
    A good rear wheel/tyre combo... & you're sweet ;-)

    Plus, we're taking hard tails here. How much compliance are you expecting? ;-P
    '
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  28. #28
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    I researched extensively for months looking for a 29/650B+ steel hardtail frame. The Honzo and NS Eccentric were both in the running, but in the end I ordered a Pipedream Moxie. Moxie Enduro Hardtail | 27.5/27.5+/29er Compatible

    Probably more than you want to spend unless you have most of a build kit laying around.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Steel Hardtail Decisions-pipedream-moxie-1200x600-shrek.jpg  

    I got some bad ideas in my head.

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    Nice bike Travis. I wish someone in the USA would start shipping in frames from Stanton and sell complete bikes. They keep the cost reasonable and they have a great reputation in the UK. Hardtails seem to have more love in the UK than they do in the US. I would love to have a Stanton Slackline with 27.5+ tires. I have something for red bikes...https://www.stantonbikes.com/product...-853-next-gen/

  30. #30
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    UK seems to be the centre of the hardtail universe these days.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  31. #31
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    Being over 6ft, I just can't see any love for Stanton, their XL has a 450mm reach, which is by todays standard about what you'd expect for the avg size Large, what my XL Paradox from 2012 had and they seem to have no intention to increase their sizing to accommodate anyone over 6ft, so I ignore them now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hiker74 View Post
    Nice bike Travis. I wish someone in the USA would start shipping in frames from Stanton and sell complete bikes. They keep the cost reasonable and they have a great reputation in the UK. Hardtails seem to have more love in the UK than they do in the US. I would love to have a Stanton Slackline with 27.5+ tires. I have something for red bikes...https://www.stantonbikes.com/product...-853-next-gen/
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??

  32. #32
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    I was looking for around 460mm of reach with a short enough seat tube to fit my 160mm Revive. Moxie has 470mm of reach in long and 510mm in longer. Oddly to me anyway, the seat tubes on both are 420mm. I would up that a bit on the longer.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

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    I’m a Clyde at 6’3 270#. Have been on a Xxl Tallboy LTc for 3 years now. I’m tired of dealing with the rear suspension at my size. So I’m currently waiting for a XL Guerrilla Gravity Pedalhead Frame to arrive. I had looked at a few other steel Hardtails ( chromag, honzo , moxie) but kept coming back to the PH. Everyone who has reviewed it has loved it and the 140mm fork , modern geo and threaded bottom bracket checked a lot of boxes for the. The guys at GG are amazing to work with, now if they could please send me my frame so I can get this amazing build started that would be awesome.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx View Post
    Actually, a whole frikin lot Seriously, if you haven't owned and ridden a steel HT, then you have no voice in this discussion, if you had, you would know and understand. Granted any frame can be made to be harsh, just it's much easier with alu. The difference between my alu and steel bikes is AMAZING, won't ever ride another alu HT again and most definitely not with regular size tyres.
    :meh:

    Your loss

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    I think it's really important to consider the terrain and your riding fantasy when choosing a bike. I demo'd a GG Pedalhead and it is just not for the type of trails in my area. I found the PH to be to aggressive. The bottom bracket was way to low and the bike was way to long (I ride a large but demo'd a medium). The tires were way to heavy. The wheelbase was way to long.
    My trails require near constant peddling, lots of roots and rocks, and most importantly short punchy climbs. Yes the GG is a rad bike and it's for someone other than me who lives somewhere else.

    I also demo'd a Norco Fluid HT. The build was on the low end but the bike was so much more fun and was a "fit" with the style of riding and trails in my local. Now I would not buy the Fluid since it has a weird rear axle spacing (I want to say it's 141mm wide).

    Hiker74 where to you ride and what are the trails like?

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    I'm in Indiana and there's some flats as well as the same amount of climbing to downhill. Most trails are hardback. For the Pedalhead I was looking at 29r not 27.5+. The alternative is the Jamis Dragonslayer Pro which is 27.5+ but probably less aggressive

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    And there's the main issue. I haven't ridden the Pedalhead but I have ridden a Dragonslayer sport with the same wheels and tires and I liked it. The bike shop I'd get it from is super cool and old school. I can demo a Pedalhead about an hr away and I'll probably do that.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Georgia_Rider View Post
    I think it's really important to consider the terrain and your riding fantasy when choosing a bike. I demo'd a GG Pedalhead and it is just not for the type of trails in my area. I found the PH to be to aggressive. The bottom bracket was way to low and the bike was way to long (I ride a large but demo'd a medium). The tires were way to heavy. The wheelbase was way to long.
    My trails require near constant peddling, lots of roots and rocks, and most importantly short punchy climbs. Yes the GG is a rad bike and it's for someone other than me who lives somewhere else.

    I also demo'd a Norco Fluid HT. The build was on the low end but the bike was so much more fun and was a "fit" with the style of riding and trails in my local. Now I would not buy the Fluid since it has a weird rear axle spacing (I want to say it's 141mm wide).

    Hiker74 where to you ride and what are the trails like?
    True. My favourite trails have longer fast down hill sections. We have some super tight, twisty stuff, but I think of them as connecters to link up the good stuff. If I still lived on the prairies I would not have ordered a Moxie, but here in BC it makes sense for me.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  39. #39
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    Got my first ride in since setting it up as a 29er. It was a short one, main thing that stood out- the Dragonslayer felt much lighter on her feet, quicker to accelerate and steering response. It also was a little less cush in the ride and a drop in grip. All in all a nice change of pace and like being able to make the switch.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Steel Hardtail Decisions-6986336d-139b-46c4-af43-56283dbf8313.jpg  

    Steel Hardtail Decisions-c3feab90-14be-495a-bd0c-9249541f83a9.jpg  


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    Looks sweet. How much clearance do you have on the front fender? Also what width are the tires? Would 2.4 29r Ardents fit?

  41. #41
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    Am running a 2.35 Forekaster up front with a 2.25 Rekon in back. No problem clearing a 2.4 up front. In the back have the adjustable sliding drop out all the way forward. Might be close for a 2.4”tire but you can slide it back another 15mm if needed.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Georgia_Rider View Post
    I think it's really important to consider the terrain and your riding fantasy when choosing a bike. I demo'd a GG Pedalhead and it is just not for the type of trails in my area. I found the PH to be to aggressive. The bottom bracket was way to low and the bike was way to long (I ride a large but demo'd a medium). The tires were way to heavy. The wheelbase was way to long.
    My trails require near constant peddling, lots of roots and rocks, and most importantly short punchy climbs. Yes the GG is a rad bike and it's for someone other than me who lives somewhere else.

    I also demo'd a Norco Fluid HT. The build was on the low end but the bike was so much more fun and was a "fit" with the style of riding and trails in my local. Now I would not buy the Fluid since it has a weird rear axle spacing (I want to say it's 141mm wide).

    Hiker74 where to you ride and what are the trails like?

    How well did the Pedalhead climb, I need a good climber and what do you mean by too aggressive? Thanks

  43. #43
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    Build is finished. Just need some better weather to let her rip.


  44. #44
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    What about a Karate Monkey or Ritchey P29?

    The P29 frame may have a few year old geo and features but weighs in just a little more than some AL. A nice build for the $$ too.

    The KM is as up to date if that's whats wanted.

    To bad no Moxie in the US.

  45. #45
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    I've ridden a built karate monkey with 27.5+. It was really wonkey with the over kill dirt wizard tires. I wish I could ride one with lower rolling resistance tires. At $1499usd is quite a bunch of money. I'd add a $700 Yari or used/closeout Pike and maybe a $200 dropper post which would take it to almost $2500 which is a lot for a bike with NX components

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