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  1. #1
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    Trail vs. Race bike

    Besides suspension travel, what are the main differences between trail and race mountain bikes?

    Specifically, I'm comparing the Trek Top Fuel 9.7 to the Fuel EX 9:
    http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...,fuelex9,empty

    The Top Fuel 9.7 has the best color layout of any Top Fuel or Fuel EX bikes to me. The Top Fuel also seems to have better components in general and carbon components.

    I would consider a 9.9 SSL but the 9.7 looks way better. Trek has certainly decreased color offerings on its mountain bikes in the last three years. Basically one color for each model.

    I know riding style has lots to do with the bike you choose. I ride flat and climbing with rocks mixed it. However, I'm not jumping or pounding the bike against rocks, which the Top Fuel's 120mm travel is probably better for. My riding is usually coasting and climbing on mostly smooth surfaces. I stay away from gutted, rooted trails. Rocks I hit aren't big and mostly at slower speeds due to climbing.

    I'm only comparing Trek bikes. Any comments on the comparison are welcome.

  2. #2
    Mountain Man Dan
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    The main difference would be weight.

  3. #3
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    Don't racing bikes typically put you into a more aggressive pedaling position, with more weight over the bars? That's been my limited experience.

  4. #4
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    My trail bike is a steel, 24lb single speed.

    My race bike is steel, 24lb single speed with a number on the front.
    :wq

  5. #5
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    Weight, suspension travel and head tube angle are going to be the major differences. Slacker head tube angle works against you on the climbs but is generally more comfortable on the downhills when combined with a longer travel fork.

    The Fisher Superfly 100 29er looks like a good race bike, and the X9 shifters/deraillers would be my choice over SLX.
    "Got everything you need?"

  6. #6
    addicted to chunk
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    Ride them both, only way to know. Pick the one that feels the best.
    Riding.....

  7. #7
    T.W.O.
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    Race bike is a single purpose bike and trail bike is a multi purpose bike. You'd want one to be all business because the extra $$$$ you spent, and the other one to be playful and more all around.

    If you're not racing don't get a race bike. You can race with your trail bike later on when you want to.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mimi1885
    Race bike is a single purpose bike and trail bike is a multi purpose bike. You'd want one to be all business because the extra $$$$ you spent, and the other one to be playful and more all around.

    If you're not racing don't get a race bike. You can race with your trail bike later on when you want to.
    What if they prefer quicker steering and better climbing, to loads of squishy, slack travel?... such as myself. I ride what most consider a race bike, even though I don't race. I went from a "trail" bike to this "race" bike, and I couldn't be happier.

    Lots of travel, and slack angles are for noobs with no skills jk

  9. #9
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    I have a mach 4 I loved it, a nice race bike. Then i tested a pivot mach 5 and now i regret buying it. It would be well worth test riding both types of bikes befor you buy. I still love my Mach 4 but on down hills it slows me up. Going to have to spend more money on the mach 5.7 now that it is out.

  10. #10
    T.W.O.
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    Quote Originally Posted by d365
    What if they prefer quicker steering and better climbing, to loads of squishy, slack travel?... such as myself. I ride what most consider a race bike, even though I don't race. I went from a "trail" bike to this "race" bike, and I couldn't be happier.

    Lots of travel, and slack angles are for noobs with no skills jk

    Well there are plenty of quick steering and steep angle FS bike not race bike. Race bikes usually equipped with lighter components, low profile tires. You have a race position/geometry bike not race bike of course you are a WW as well then why aren't you racing.

    I have all set up, love the race bike set up as well but I would not ride it every day because it takes more skills and finesse to ride them on my trail. It's just the matter of preference and what/where you ride as you know the dark force is strong and once you go there you don't come back I love loads of travel slack angle it suit noobs like me well.

    Edit, I understand how you feel when you switched. When I switch I used to complain about back pain of a more upright position, now the situation reverse. I complain on the longer ride on the XC bike.

  11. #11
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    Brettr2,not sure if it was a typo, but the Top Fuel 9.7
    has 100mm of travel not 120mm. However that being said
    I have road and owned both, Trek Top Fuel and Fuel EX
    bikes and love the Fuel EX line of bikes. I sold my Top
    Fuel and my 08 EX9 to get a Fuel EX 9.9. I have had 4
    Fuel EX bikes and still have 2 of them. To be honest
    I love the Fuel EX bikes better than anything else I have
    had or road. They are that good.

    Best, John

    PS, They are also very fast.

  12. #12
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Quote Originally Posted by nachomc
    My trail bike is a steel, 24lb single speed.

    My race bike is steel, 24lb single speed with a number on the front.
    This is the real difference.

    For a rider who's flowy and makes smooth line selections, a racing bike shouldn't really be limiting, and for someone who's strong, flowy, and makes good line selections, they'll help you get to the top of something faster, whether you climb fire roads or singletrack. For someone who's more interested in jumping off of picnic tables and descends with more guts than finesse, something a little more forgiving might be a better idea.

    OP, if you can demo them both, that would be the best way to choose. Nicer suspension components and drivetrain on the Fuel EX, though, and for a better price too... How much do you really want that carbon frame?
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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