I own both and I've been getting a lot of PMs the last couple days requesting a comparison. Well, I guess that kind of info would be useful for others so here's my general write up on the Nomad vs XCL.
First, general specs...
Nomad - Coil Trail Blingaling Build
07 pc liquid blue med, Van 36, Zoke Roco TST Coil, I9s w/5.1ds, and an XT/x.9 build. Very AM/Trail but with coils.
XCL - Lo Frills and All Business
07 ano gray small, Pike Coil, RP23, WTB Laserdisc Trail, XT/x.9 build. Note on sizing: The Med Nomad fits great. The Med XCL felt huge. The Small XCL was the better bet but sometimes it feels a little bit small.
5'8", 160lbs, with more gear than skills, rides once or twice a week with lots of climbing, technical rocky descents, and loose dry Southern California dirt.
I don't know. Weighing bikes is overrated and for lycra clad weight weenies.
So, how do they compare?
The XCL, to me, feels like a burly trail bike with XC DNA. It's long legged, yet nimble. Comfortable, yet agile. People have been known to race endurance on it. And some people have been known to huck pretty ridiculous gaps (to transition) with it (not recommended). In the past, I've described it as a single track assassin. It's relatively low CG, short chain stays, and short wheelbase make this thing easy to fling through twisties. The front end lifts almost telepathically and is easy to get up and over obstacles. It feels like a cross between my old Blur LT and Blur 4x. Low, but not too low. Agile, but not squirrelly. If I were doing a 20 miler over varied terrain, I'd probably pull this bike out of the garage.
As opposed to the XCL, where I feel low and lean, the Nomad feels higher up and more removed from the trail. And it doesn't feel like it has any XC in it at all. It's got a long wheelbase and long chainstays. This thing, in my hands at least, doesn't really want to lift its front end. With the XCL you can finesse, almost dance, your way over and around stuff. WIth the Nomad, you just plow through it. The Nomad doesn't feel nearly as nimble and agile but the length (and 6 inches) smooths everything out for a very stable ride. With my limited experience I feel like there's typically a pretty noticeable difference between 5 inch bikes and 6 inch bikes. That one inch may not seem like a lot but add in the geometry changes and 6 inch bikes just feel bigger, smoother, and more confidence inspiring.
Climbing, the XCL isn't the fastest thing but it gets the job done. I think that's maybe 1/4 burliness and 3/4 out-of-shapeness. The geo is relatively comfortable with the fork all the way out but if you slam the front end it motors on up just about anything. My Nomad's got a fixed 160mm fork on there so climbing takes an extra portion of concentration and a fair bit more time. Either way, I'm slow on both bikes climbing, and mostly because I'm a skinny fat guy, but I'm slower up hills on my Nomad.
Both bikes are exceedingly boring on flats. That's not what they're for. Move along.
But point them down and they light up. But in different ways. The XCL still requires skill, guts, technique, and a half decent line to get down my rocky descents but the burliness, standard 69* AM/Trail HA, and the rest of the geo magic do it's job. It's most fun ripping through tight twisty stuff that is moderately chunky with ups and downs thrown in the mix.
The Nomad is more of a ready, fire, aim type bike. It isn't so bad itself in the twisty stuff but I find that I have to muscle it around more than the XCL. WIth the Chumba I just kind of lean to and fro and it carves away. The Nomad requires a bit more effort but can be just as fun on tight fast trails.
At the end of the day, though, I think they're different enough that I don't think it's an apples to apples comparison. The Nomad is more in line with the EVO and the XCL with the BLUR LT or Heckler. There's some overlap between most 5" and 6" bikes but the ones I've owned or ridden have been distinctly different from each other. Most five inch bikes still feel like XC bikes that can hustle. The three or so six inch bikes I've tried (Nomad, previous Turner 6 Pack, and demoed EVO) all feel like big tall rock bashers that can still pedal.
At the end of the day they are different tools for different jobs.
Comments, questions, feedback, and mockery (no, not really) are all welcome.
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Thread: Nomad vs XCL