Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 34
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation: nato_the_greato's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    312

    Marathon carbon or elite?

    I want to get a Marathon, trying to decide if I should shell out the extra for the carbon version. The only differences between the Elite and the Carbon Expert, besides the frame material (and the bling factor), are the brakes (SLX vs Juicy 3), wheels (Crossrides), and saddle.

    The parts spec is pretty much the same. Does anyone know the weight difference on the frames? Do they ride differently? I imagine they handle the same.

    There are some parts upgrades between the two, but with the money I'd save ($1100) I could buy some really nice wheels and brakes for the Elite.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    165
    Wow, tough choice! Yeah the carbons have HUGE bling factor, but the aluminium's are deffinately underrated.

    As far as weight goes, i haven't weighed the frames alone, but most of the carbon Marathon's that come through our shop are around 10kgs to 12kgs. The lightest i've seen one was an '08 Team that was 9.8kgs! Stock i think they were about 10.3 from memory. My '06 ID4 (basically the same frame as the base marathon this year) decked out with X9, Recon's and a few other goodies come's in just over 13.8kgs.

    Just to give you a comparison, my boss' Force Carbon Expert weighs 13.2kgs!

    So i'd say the Marathon Expert should be a fair bit lighter than the Elite.

    Personaly i would go the carbon. Coz yeah you could drop that extra $1100 on some wheels and brakes for the Elite, and you might get the weight down to where the Expert is, but if you start with an Expert, potentially you can work on getting that down to the weight of the Marathon Team or even lighter!!!

    Plus red goes faster!

    As far as the ride goes, they do handle very similarly. The carbons accelerate quicker and are easier to throw around the trail.

    Either way you decide to go, your gonna be a very happy camper on either of those rigs.
    Last edited by Eatyapeas; 02-22-2009 at 04:06 PM.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: nato_the_greato's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    312
    Where do you work? I'm a mechanic at a bike shop in Boulder, CO. We're a GT dealer but we don't deal with many of the higher end ones. We don't have anything above a Marathon 3.0 in stock right now.

    We did have a guy come in with his Medium Marathon Team from 08, it was a bit over 24lbs, so 10kg sounds about right.

    I'm leaning toward the carbon. It'll wreck my upgrade budget for the year but I think I won't have the upgrade lust as bad with the nicer one.

    I hate how spoiled I get working at a bike shop. My first real mountain bike a $700 cannondale with an 80mm headshok, and I loved that thing and rode it to death. Now I know it was a piece of s--t, and I can't stand to think about riding a mountain bike that costs less than $2k.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    165
    I work at Bendigo Cycles in Victoria, Australia. It's not a huge shop but we're in a part of the country thats pretty heavy into cycling so we see some pretty good stuff.

    Seeing the Expert in the flesh i think will sway you big time!!! I can guarantee you won't be thinking about upgrades for a fair while!!!

    Yeah it's funny how ya get used to high end gear and forget that the cheaper stuff is still actually really good. Although the cheap stuff now is lightyears ahead of what the cheap stuff was when we started riding! I still remember when most high end bikes were ridgid and we were debating whether or not front suspension was even worth it.

    So compared to those days, an '09 Avalanche 3.0 is a serious peice of gear.

    What Cannondale was it? Mine was a Diamond Back Response SE. I rode that thing into the ground but it was a GT Pantera that i really wanted. I remeber thinking there was just no way i could ever save up $1,300.00 (thats AUD at the time).

    .....man that makes me feel old!

    So have you had a chance to see the Expert up close yet?

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation: nato_the_greato's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    312
    I had a '99 Cannondale F900. I looked it up, and it only had 60mm of travel, and these god-awful Coda hydraulic brakes that barely worked and had the worst feel of any brakes I've ever felt. I got it second hand from my older brother, but it was $1500 when it was new. It's truly amazing to see what $500 can buy you nowadays.

    The only '09 GTs we've had in are the Marathon 3.0s and the a couple of the Avalanche 3.0s. We do have a medium Carbon Pro from last year. It does look pretty amazing. I can only assume the 09s are the same or better.

    What's the riding like there? I've never been, but it's on my list of places to go.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    165
    Riding here is a lotta fun. Most visitors say it's very rough terrain, but i grew up here so it's just normal to me! Around my home town it's quit technical with good elevation change and some very sweet flowy stuff. Just the way i like it!

    You'd have some decent riding where you are in Boulder. Any one i've spoken to who's ridden in the states loves it!

    At the end of the year GT Australia always puts on a trade show for the next years gear. This years was late but all the carbon's were there so it was worth it! Well, everything except the Fury was there.

    The pictures don't do justice to the Marathon's. They are stunning!

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation: nato_the_greato's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    312
    You convinced me on the carbon, although you hardly needed to twist my arm. I'm gonna send in my order form today. Hopefully I'll have it in a couple weeks.

  8. #8
    XCRACER
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    60

    Carbon vs. Aluminum.

    I have had both. I had my 07 Carbon built up with top line stuff and had the weight down to 24.125lbs. I have just built up a 07 Aluminum I-Drive for my race bike an with my race wheels on its down to 23.75lbs. See photo. I will have to say you canít go wrong with either bike. I did strip the paint and try to polish it out and I also add grip shift to save some grams.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation: nato_the_greato's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    312
    Nice strip job. If I had gone with the aluminum one, I would've done the same. I love the polished look.

    I put my order in for the Carbon Expert, it should be in next week. Hopefully it won't snow right after I get it.

  10. #10
    XCRACER
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    60

    You will be happy with that choice

    You will be happy with that choice. The Carbon frame is sweet and a good base to build on. Hay snap us some photos when you get it. I really would like to see it.

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation: nato_the_greato's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    312
    First off, GT rocks. Hands down. Awesome customer service. Ordered bike Monday morning, showed up at the shop Thursday at noon.
    The weight was 27.77lbs, completely stock. I was surprised by this. I was expecting 2 or 3 pounds heavier.

    Here are some really awful pictures from the shop tonight. I'll get some better ones tomorrow.




  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    165
    That is some VERY nice carbon you got there!!!

    How much better do they look in the flesh than in the pics!!!!

    Enjoy!
    I'm Ron Burgundy?

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation: nato_the_greato's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    312
    Yeah you're right. Pictures just don't do it justice. It's really beautiful in person.

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation: nato_the_greato's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    312
    Here's a little better picture from the trail this morning:


  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation: biketavioumaximus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    336
    Quote Originally Posted by nato_the_greato
    Here's a little better picture from the trail this morning:


    Review???? How did it ride?

  16. #16
    mtbr member
    Reputation: nato_the_greato's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    312
    Short review: I'm really glad I got it.

    Longer review: I spent a long time obsessing about angles. I was worried the head angle would be too steep. The seat angle seemed good. In practice, the angles seem perfect. I had a Giant Reign (6 inches/140mm fork, fairly slack angles) and I didn't like it. I wanted something with a decent amount of travel (120mm fork), but with more aggressive angles.

    The 120mm fork on the Marathon is perfect. It's a pretty lively ride, but not twitchey like a race hardtail. You have to steer it and pick lines, but it doesn't feel like it'll bite if you stop paying attention. The front end is up high enough, but not too high.

    On my 6" bike, I didn't have to pick lines, and could bomb down pretty much anything and stay rubber side down. The seat angle was really slack, so you could get back far on descents, but it was hard to get enough weight on the front end for twisty singeltrack.

    The seat angle on the Marathon is slack enough for some fast descents, but you're not stuck too far back to get weight on the front end. It's a very balanced geometry that's good for general sort of trail/xc riding. It makes sense that it was designed for 24 hour racing. It handles like a race bike, but one you can ride at 2am.

    I'm still working on getting the suspension dialed in. The only issue I'm not a huge fan of is the rear shock. It's a low volume, short stroke shock. They do this to keep the weight down, but it makes the leverage really high. The stroke is about 1.25", so the leverage is about 3.2:1. In practical terms, this means I have to run the pressure a lot higher than I normally would for a Fox shock. I have it set up at body weight + 15%. The leverage seems to drop off as the travel goes through the motion. Even when I had the pressure lower, I wasn't able to bottom it out, I just blew through the travel faster.

    It does really well with rapid little bumps, like a small rock garden, soft-ball sized rocks. Higher leverage makes it more likely to pack up with successive medium-sized bumps, but it's a fairly short travel anyway. If it were a longer travel bike with a high leverage, it would be more noticeable.

    As far as the rest of the build kit goes, it all passes the "invisibility test." Everything works like it should, and there isn't really any part I feel I need to upgrade. The kit is reasonably light, but still pretty strong. I'm a heavier rider, so I'm all for stronger over lighter. The Ritchey Pro stuff doesn't have the bling of a WCS or EA90, but it's almost as light as the higher end stuff. They didn't cut corners anywhere they shouldn't have.

    The other full suspension bikes I've spent some time demo-ing are the Ibis Mojo, Maverick ML8, and Giant Anthem, and Giant Trance X. I used to own the Giant Reign. That's a huge spread, I know, so it's hard to draw comparisons. I got a good deal on the GT because I work at a GT dealer. The only other bike I would buy in that list is the Trance X. The GT and the Trance X ride pretty similar. The head angle on the Trance X is 69.5, and the GT is 71. I feel if the head angle were relaxed just a touch, to 70.5, it would ride a bit better. I though 69.5 was a touch too slack, and 71 a touch too steep.

    You can really go down a rabbit hole obsessing about this stuff. I'm glad I got the GT, and it rides exactly how I wanted it to, fast but not twitchy, with enough travel up front for some decent sized hits, and enough travel in the back for a lively ride.

  17. #17
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    39
    How do you like the Recon front shock?
    I was surprised they went away from Fox in 08 to Rock Shox in the 09 models,
    especially in that price range...?

    Sweet looking bike!

  18. #18
    mtbr member
    Reputation: nato_the_greato's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    312
    The Recon is basically just a heavier version of the Reba, with single air instead of double air. It seems to work exactly the same as other high-end Rock Shox stuff. It works. It passes the invisibility test. You don't really notice it.

    With a Fox, you notice it. You think "wow that's a nice fork" when you ride one.

    The fork is the only thing I would upgrade that would improve performance.

  19. #19
    mtbr member
    Reputation: biketavioumaximus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    336
    terrific reveiw nato, what does it weigh?

  20. #20
    mtbr member
    Reputation: nato_the_greato's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    312
    As pictured (stock) it was 27.75lbs for a size Large. The tires it comes with (Kenda Karma) aren't very good for the riding I do. I put some thick latex tubes in, and some maxxis tires, and it bumped the weight up to 28.5lbs. It rides a lot better, so I don't notice the weight penalty.

  21. #21
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    954
    Very nice write up and very nice ride Nato. Keep us posted on the good and bad as your rides continue.
    2009 GT Marathon Team,GT Force 2.0, GT Jelly Belly TT (nude carbon), and a very special Todd Wells Zaskar.

  22. #22
    mtbr member
    Reputation: nato_the_greato's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    312
    I just ordered a 130mm fork from Manitou. The only objection I have with the ride is I wish the head angle was half a degree slacker. The fork should take care of that. I was fairly impressed with my Minute 29er fork (I though it was halfway between a Fox and a Rockshox), so I thought I'd give a 26" version a shot. Plus it'll drop almost a pound off the weight.

  23. #23
    mtbr member
    Reputation: nato_the_greato's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    312
    Here's a picture of the bike currently. As pictured, total weight is 25.2lbs. Aside from some chips in the paint and some dirt, the frame is still in great shape:



    Upgrades include Formula Oro K18 brakes, 160mm rear, 180mm front, Fox Talas 32, Stan's ZTR Arch wheels, Maxxis Larsen rear, Ignitor Front, Easton Monkeylite XC bars.

    Drivetrain is a 1x9 setup with original SLX parts. All in all, a very light setup without any "super light" parts.

    Interesting thing about the Talas fork, even though it has 140mm travel instead of 120mm like the Recon, the axle-to-crown was the same, but being able to drop the front-end down to 100mm helps a lot for climbing.
    Former bike mechanic; current idiot.

  24. #24
    May the Force be with you
    Reputation: norcalchico's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    1,035
    I really like the bike.

  25. #25
    mtbr member
    Reputation: nato_the_greato's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    312
    Yeah I like it too. Usually the bikes I buy through the shop I keep more or less stock, and I flip it at the end of the season, but since so many people are blowing them out for below wholesale, it didn't make sense to.

    I just ordered an X9 rear der. and an X0 grip shift, so that should drop me below the 25# mark.
    Former bike mechanic; current idiot.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •