I hope no one minds if I post here on behalf of my teenage son. He is seventeen, 6' 4 1/2", long & lanky, ~165 lbs. He races xc on his local composite high school mountain bike team. Last season (his first year on the team) he raced on his 29 lb aluminum-frame XL Stumpy fs 29er. For the upcoming season he would like to be on a cf hardtail like most of his teammates. So we are looking.....and looking! But guess what? He CAN'T FIND an XL racing hardtail ANYWHERE to test ride, not a floor model, nor a demo. And we live in the greater L.A. area = lots of bike shops. I took him to three Niner demos before I figured out that Niner really doesn't have an XL Air 9 in their Demo fleet. This high school team is small (few sponsors, little community support), so no help there. I haven't been successful with Pinkbike or other classifieds.
Bottom line, he needs to decide on a cf hardtail within my budget constraints ($3,000 +/- $500) sight unseen and make it work. The Niner rep is offering an XL Air 9 thru my LBS, spec'd up to Sram XO for a pretty good price. Another LBS can get an XL Scott Scale 920 with XT/XTR. My son likes Santa Cruz Highball, though it's outside my budget new. I think the geometry and shorter chainstays of the Scale 920 and Highball might be more comfortable and serve his racing style better than the Air 9, but I'm no expert.
Of those three bikes (Air 9, Scale 920, Highball c), can I get some opinions from tall riders?
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Thread: CF Hardtail for Tall Racer