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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Apr 2011

    help deciding on a hardtail

    Like the title says I'm about to go bike shopping and am just looking for a little more insight before I go to the shop. From the brands my local shop(s) carry I'm kind of narrowed down to a Santa Cruz chameleon, Jamis dragon 29 sport, or a Jamis exile. I've got my own ideas on pro's and con's of each of these but am just curious what advice my fellow clydes can offer.

    I'm 6'3" about 270lbs but dropping as I ride and live in western KY ie: hills are either short and steep around the lake, or longish grades, but mostly flat land. I'm looking for a bike that can do this terrain well, but at the same time can handle some small jumps and drops from someone my size. I also am looking to develop my skill set as far as manuals, bunny hops, etc. and I feel like an XC bike wouldn't lend itself as easily to this kind of thing and, for lack of a better word would get kind of boring if I was wanting to do anything more than just ride from point A to point B as quickly as possible, but maybe I'm wrong in this regard.

    P.S. I'm currently on an '02 stumpy fsr that just isn't doing it for me, but It has gotten me involved enough to know that I like this riding thing and hope to keep in it for a while. The shops closest to me also carry trek, specialized, surly, yeti, haro, niner, and redline if you have any suggestions from these brands but I would like to keep my budget as far under $2000 as possible. Thanks for any help/insight/opinions you guys can offer and hopefully I'll be ordering a new bike by the end of the week.

  2. #2
    Making fat cool since '71
    Reputation: ImaKlyde's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Out of those, Chameleon. As the name can be made to conform to a myriad of uses.
    If I might muddy the waters...I've been pounding an On One 456 Summer Season for most of the year and am super happy with it. It's super slack with the fork all the way out (36 talas) but I can climb anything on it with it down. The regular and carbon 456 are not as slack, but pretty much as capable. I've done everything from all day 45+ mile rides to light duty freeride days on it. It's become my "go to" bike of late.

    Are the wheels roundish? Ride it.

    Disciples Of Dirt, come ride with us.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Specialized has come a long way since your 02 Stumpy FSR. The new stumpy FSRs have increased in travel greatly as of late and are more of a Trail/AM bike then a cross country/trail that you are looking for. They have a new model now, the Camber, that is supposed to be a more versatile xc/trail bike then the Epic. I haven't ridden one, but they have developed quite a following on the Specialized subforum.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    If I were you, I'd look for a used Transition Vagrant (large).

    See the reviews here.

    Nice all-around bike, and it's got the sturdiness for big-boys to do tricks on them. They haven't made them for a while. Transition shifted to a chromo AM replacement for it. But if you like alloy bikes like the Chameleon, you might just love an old Vagrant.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Thanks for the replies guys.

    ImaKlyde- Honestly an inbred/456 was originally what I had in mind, but it doesn't seem like there's any complete bikes available right now and I would like to get on a new ride as soon as possible so that I can be better acquainted with it by spring time. Also I almost feel like I should buy something through a local dealer, just to offer support to a small business, especially since I order my parts online typically.

    fireroad- Trust me I know my old bike doesn't really compare to the new ones, I just found this thing cheap to get on the trails to start with and familiarize myself with maintaining a bike before I spent any real money. If I eventually go FS I do like the newer models but for now I think I'd rather go hardtail.

    Austin Dave- The transam was another one of my early thoughts that I kind of whittled away for the "buy local" stuff and also I don't know that I want to spend quite that much. If there was more of a used market locally I would def. check out the vagrant but I'll probably go with a new ride to avoid someone else's (potential) mess.

    The Chameleon was actually what I had in mind but I wasn't sure about the EBB and I was curious if I'd get the "you need a 29er" argument. I feel like at this price point I'd be stuck with flexy wheels if I go that big and since I haven't had a 29er yet I don't think I'll be missing anything. Thanks for the comments, it will be later in the week before I can go in anywhere so if anybody has anything else to add please do.

  6. #6
    Reputation: clydecrash's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    zardog, I understand that you want to go through a local lbs, so have you asked them if they are willing to become a dealer for other brands? If there isn't a dealer for another brand you are interested in close by, then most manufacturers are willing to work with a local shop.

    But to the recommendation, so far I would recommend the Chameleon because, as already stated, it is versatile. But--as big as you are (and I am almost as big), I recommend a strong steel frame. Alum vs. steel, there is a difference

    A regular On-one 456 seems ideal for you. I got one last spring, and love it. Plenty strong, but still a forgiving steel frame (but not as forgiving as XC frames). And inexpensive. I bet your local shop would work with you building it up (thus keeping the local shop involved). I would just ask the local lbs's to see what they say.

    Good luck.

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    I might see what they can do, honestly I haven't had time to stop in yet so maybe they would do something along these lines. And I agree, I'd rather have steel but like the chameleon.

    I originally thought I would just do a build since I enjoy wrenching on things, but have grown impatient, and don't know if I want to take that long, even though buying just a frameset would open up my options. I'm looking at my old ride though and I might just order a chameleon or 456 frame and switch a lot of my parts over to it, I wound up upgrading most of the parts, some from necessity and a lot from boredom and the opportunity to tinker. I guess I'll give that some strong thought also. I'm not dead set on buying local I just think I might give them first crack at it if they can help me out.
    Last edited by zardog; 10-24-2011 at 08:57 PM.

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