I currently ride (and really like) a Giant Anthem X 29er that I have used for just about everything but it has a few characteristics I don't like for bikepacking or long endurance rides. It feels like more of an XC race bike with a steep HT angle that does not give me much confidence on steep descents and drops for example. It feels tall and there isn't much room for a frame bag either. The Maestro suspension is awesome though. When I bought it I considered the Spearfish but they were similar enough and the price of the Spearfish was much higher so I went with the Giant. Since then I've become a big fan of Giant bikes in general but they don't make a real endurance/bikepacking bike so I'm considering other brands.
I've signed up for the 24 HITOP solo and been seriously considering the CT and AZT so I'm thinking it might be worth investing in a different bike. I just looked up the specs for the 2014 Spearfish and really like what I see (except the price). Much shorter chainstays, 69.3 HT angle, 51 mm fork offset and new split pivot design. It looks to be exactly what I am looking for that my Anthem doesn't have. They even have a frame bag specifically for it. I've just about sold myself on a 2014 Spearfish but I'm wondering if there are other FS 29ers that I should consider for a good endurance bike. FWIW I can get great deals (50%-30% off) on Giant, Trek and Cannondale but NOT Salsa, figures.
I know lots of people race HT for these sorts of things but my 51 year old butt and back don't want to suffer through that. I have also considered the fact that Kurt Refsnider rides his Spearfish for all of these events and only rides his Ti HT on gravel grinders or sub 50 mile efforts. I figure he knows more about it than most.
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