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  1. #1
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    Upgrading to FS 29r or 650b

    Hi Folks,

    I am new here and I am sure I will find some great advice. After years of riding rigid or a head shock I am ready to move into the full suspension arena. I am 43 years old, 5'8', 170 lbs and still full of piss and vinegar. I ride 3-5 times a week at a minimum and I live in Central Pennsylvania (great single track). I am planning to start traveling quite a bit more to places like Fruita, CO, Moab, Sedona, Prescot, and the Rockies in general along with some trips to the Smokies. So I am looking for a kind of do it all bike. I am a professional photographer and I carry at least an extra 10 lbs of gear with me to take pics. I have a budget of $5000.00. I am looking seriously at Santa Cruz Bronson C, Santa Cruz Tallboy LTC and because I would like to buy made in the USA I am also looking at Turner's Sultan and Flux. As a less expensive option to make my wife happy (LOL), I am comparing the Salsa Horsethief, but maybe not enough bike for me. I really don't mind climbing, actually kinda like it and like most I love a good downhill. I have been riding since about 1986ish when I bought a Trek 950 with cantilever brakes. I want a bike that will last me a while and will do almost anything. A lot to ask, I know. I am planning on buying my bike from a local dealer so I can get fitted properly but I could be talked into an online sale for the right price.

    I am leaning towards the Bronson c from what I have read.

    Hit me!!!

  2. #2
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    Re: Upgrading to FS 29r or 650b

    You might also consider the new Pivot Mach 6 they just announced if you are interested in the Bronson. They will be direct competitors and in my opinion DW-Link suspension is just a bit better then VPP2 for remaining active but still very pedaling efficient. That's coming from someone who owns a VPP2 bike (Intense Tracer 29) though all bikes handle differently. The DW-Link has remarkable active traction when climbing. VPP2 has a tendency to stiffen of a bit under heavy climbing torque. You might consider the Turner Burner too if interested in 650b. A bit less travel then the Bronson or Mach 6 but still in the ballpark. The Horsethief with the new DW Split Pivot suspension will be very nice and you typically get great bang for your buck with Salsa. A little less travel then the other bikes you are considering but unless you are planning on sending it off bigger drops and jumps the 29" wheels will make up for some of the travel loss to smooth out the trail.

    I have been getting into more photography while I ride too lately. Right now just trying to learn the basics of taking good pics. Decided to start with a nice point and shoot then upgrade to a DSLR later. I bought a Sony DSC-RX100. Pretty nice with lots of manual features for a P&S.

    Specialized Epic 29
    Intense Tracer 29

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the advice. One of my new ventures is to lead photography seminars while riding. Just saying.

    There are so many decisions with bikes. It used to be simple. I thought about Pivot as well. I was going to mention the MACH 429. I will have to check out the 6. But I want to buy a bike in the next week.

  4. #4
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    Re: Upgrading to FS 29r or 650b

    Well you definitely won't be getting a Mach 6 in the next week. :-) Could get a Mach 5.7 if willing to go with a 26er. Mach 429 carbon is a phenomenal and capable bike. I demoed it in Moab last year. Turner Burner is very nice too if not set on carbon. It is DW-Link as well. If more travel wets your appetite there is the Pivot Firebird 27.5 also. I I don't know how I forgot to mention the Ibis Mojo HDR 650b. The Mojo is also DW-Link, carbon, and one of my all time favorite bikes I have ever ridden. The new HDR can be run as 650b at 130mm of travel with no modifications or close to 150mm of travel by shimming the rear shock to reduce travel approximately 10mm. You might like the Yeti SB95 also. Their Switch Suspension acts very similar to other dual link designs like DW and VPP. Forgot about the Ibis Ripley! Another phenomenal slightly longer travel 29er that slots in with the Sultan, Tallboy LT, SB95.

    Specialized Epic 29
    Intense Tracer 29

  5. #5
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    Stop making it harder LOL!!!

  6. #6
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    I wish I could really see and feel the difference in the VPP and DW Link suspensions somehow. I really am going to just have to demo a few and see what fits me. I am stopping at shop Sunday that has Salsa, Turner and Santa Cruz. Then another shop next week that has Yeti, Pivot and Salsa.

  7. #7
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    Also - I am not buying anything that ways much more than 28lbs. That narrows the field.

  8. #8
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    The Intense Tracer 275 is also an option although its probably around the 30lb range. Foes Shaver F275 is around the same weight as well. Intense also has the Carbine 275 which I've heard of people building one in the 27lb range, but most test reviews list the bike closer to 30lbs with a full XTR package.


  9. #9
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    My first thought: if you plan on traveling frequently, the places you mentioned all rent high end mountain bikes. You can pick up a 1-2 year old used bike for ~1/3rd the cost of a new one off eBay or Craig's list. Why not get something nice and "field tested" for local use and rent when you travel to limit your theft exposure? The chances of a bike getting stolen when you are traveling is much higher.

    I ride three 29er's and all of them were purchased used (Turner Sultan, Fuji hard tail and a rigid steel forked Niner SIR). Of anything, I would hate for any of them to be stolen as I've put a lot of time into setting them up how I like them with my own mix of saddles, posts, bars, stems, grips, etc. When I travel, I'm happy to blast away on whatever is available in a 29er, 27.1 or 26) for a day or a week.

    If you are set on a new purchase, I don't see how you can go wrong with Santa Cruz, Turner, Pivot or possibly Niner if CVA works for you.

  10. #10
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    After reading tons of helpful reviews and opinions, I bit the bullet and bought the Santa Cruz TBLTc with the SPX AM setup. Bought it at Garrison's Cyclery in Centerville, DE and saved the tax. Rob, the owner is super knowledgeable and helpful.

  11. #11
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    Thanks for everyone's help here!!! Now I just have to spend some time dialing in my suspension for my trails. I feel like this thing will go anywhere I point the tires!!! Took a short ride on this bad ass bike and love it so far.

  12. #12
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    Re: Upgrading to FS 29r or 650b

    That is a bad ass ride. That thing will bulldoze through anything. Very similar to my Tracer 29 but lighter. Enjoy and tear it up!

    Specialized Epic 29
    Intense Tracer 29

  13. #13
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    Took my virgin ride tonight on my local trail. All I can say is WOW. Going from my Cannondale F4 to this bad boy is like going from a Chevy S10 to a Nissan Titan! It's going to take some time to get tires and sag adjusted properly. The Ardent 2.25's are not my favorite. They were all over the place on roots and loose rock. I have a ton more confidence in the Minions on my Cannondale, but overall the Tallboy LTC is insane. I am hoping to put at least 100 miles on in the next few weeks.

  14. #14
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    Re: Upgrading to FS 29r or 650b

    Go get yourself a Specialized Purgatory for the front and Ground Control for the rear. That is the combo I run on my Trcacer 29 and like it a lot. I didn't care for the Ardent either when I tried it.

    Specialized Epic 29
    Intense Tracer 29

  15. #15
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    What size are you running them?

  16. #16
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    Re: Upgrading to FS 29r or 650b

    I run 2.35s front and rear myself. Prefer the traction to the speed. Both are pretty quick tires for the traction they have in my opinion. The specialized tires in general have been my favorite 29er tires so far though I haven't tried the Schwalbes.

    Specialized Epic 29
    Intense Tracer 29

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