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  1. #1
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    Hardtail for North Shore rides?

    Hi, new member here. Moved here about 8 years ago and haven't really biked since. Lived in the midwest before this and raced a bit, so had light hard tails. Then got into singlespeeds and had a couple of them, and then life got in the way (marriage, 2 kids, job). I'm looking to get back into riding and it looks like there is a pretty good trail network in my area. Currently I'm in Rowley but in the process of buying a house in Hamilton.

    So... what bike to get? Best I can describe what I'm used to is fast flowy trails, but I haven't really ridden around here to know what's out there. Based on what I've seen bike-wise I'd like to think a 29er hardtail would fit the bill pretty well. I'm guessing I'll be riding in Topsfield, Ipswich and Gloucester mostly. Sound about right? Or is full suspension necessary? Last full suspension bike I had was a Trek Liquid and I didn't really care for it. Heavy, slow, not very responsive. Last hardtail was a Trek 8000 which I loved.

    Looks like a good choice would be a Trek Cobia? I found one on a closeout that looks like a decent deal. Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Sun Devils
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    Here's my advice, I'd get out for some demo days and even test ride some bikes at the various shops around town before you buy anything. The trails here are probably quite a bit different than the midwest, I've never ridden there but I know this place is very rocky by comparison. There isn't a lot of buff trails in New England, but there are some, and you happen to live really close to 1 in Willowdale. But still, maybe checkout JRA in Medford or North Shore cycles, Western Cycles there are a lot of great shops. I can't recommend this enough, personally I can't imagine riding a hard tail in New England, unless I lived in Vermont where you have access to 100's of miles of nice buff singletrack.

    Near your new place in Hamilton you'll have access to willowdale and tons of north shore riding right off 128. Greendwood in Beverly is another great spot. Gordon College trails are really fun. Basically from Exits 17 to 14 there are great trails to be had, some are very rocky and some a little more buff.

  3. #3
    MC MasterShake
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    I'm going to agree with gnar here. You really should try out a couple few bikes before spending a bunch of $ and then regretting your decision. Centraal Cycles is a another shop in Beverly that could help you out. Your also going to want to get out and look at the trails before jumping in. I think you'll be surprised at how chunky and technical the majority of the trails we have here are. Around Hamilton you have Willowdale and Bradley Palmer. The former is sweet buffed out singletrack the latter is mostly equestrian fireroad type stuff (yawn). There is also Harold Parker in Andover which is very chunky, Dogtown in Gloucester which is super chunky, Greenwood in Beverly which is more of a mix, and the list goes on. So I say put on your hiking boots and hike the singletrack at Harold Parker to see what you'd be up against.

    I'd take a deeper look at FS bikes if your going to ride around here, 29r or not. Over the past few years FS bikes have made huge advancements. They are no longer overweight pogo sticks. Yeah there are folks that can get away with riding hardtails around here but they fall into 3 categories. 1. Someone who barely rides and when they do it's on super easy trails. 2. Someone who has been riding awhile but has moved here from somewhere that has mostly buffed trails. 3. Someone who has been riding around here for awhile and has the skills (and stubborness) to handle the technical trails on a HT bike. Unless you fall in the 3rd category you'll be stuck riding Willowdale, Bradley Palmer, and fireroads on any of the other trail systems.

    Some good snappy FS bikes to take a look at would be the following:
    Knolly Endorphin, Yeti ASR5, Santa Cruz Blur LT, Ibis Mojo SL, Pivot Mach 5.7. If you'r really stuck on the 29'r thing go to the websites of those companies sites and lookup the 29'r equivalent.

  4. #4
    rdb
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    NEMBA is having an event at Middlesex Fells Saturday, May 4th. Pivot and Niner will have demo bikes there. JRA bike shop will be there also. Middlesex Fells

    I don't know how chunky the Fells are in relationship to other areas, haven't had a chance to ride there yet.

  5. #5
    Class Clown
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    Fells is rather tame overall. You can easily get by with a HT there.

  6. #6
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    I find the fells pretty chunky, esp. the new reservoir trail.

  7. #7
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    I recently bought a 29er Hardtail. I've been riding a big full suspension bike for years and having a lot of fun on it. You can ride a 29er Hardtail just about anywhere in New England. In fact, most of the places I ride (and I ride all over) I find I'm grabbing the 29er. It's just a different vibe. Now if I'm going to places like Highland, Lynn, B&T's, Vietnam, .............. I'm grabbing the big bike. You can ride a Hardtail in these places (especially if your intent is to avoid the crazier lines and keep your wheels on the ground) but I find the big bike to be more fun. It's places like these that make the weight penalty of a big bike worth it. Besides, I have to have a reason for owning two Mt Bikes or the wife will kill me.

  8. #8
    Sun Devils
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    Quote Originally Posted by bighit2005 View Post
    I recently bought a 29er Hardtail. I've been riding a big full suspension bike for years and having a lot of fun on it. You can ride a 29er Hardtail just about anywhere in New England. In fact, most of the places I ride (and I ride all over) I find I'm grabbing the 29er. It's just a different vibe. Now if I'm going to places like Highland, Lynn, B&T's, Vietnam, .............. I'm grabbing the big bike. You can ride a Hardtail in these places (especially if your intent is to avoid the crazier lines and keep your wheels on the ground) but I find the big bike to be more fun. It's places like these that make the weight penalty of a big bike worth it. Besides, I have to have a reason for owning two Mt Bikes or the wife will kill me.
    Good point, I don't think anyone is saying you can't ride a hard tail around here... I've certainly seen it, but I'd say 90% of the bikers I see are on some type of full suspension. I'm not lucky enough to afford a lot of bikes so I stick with the go anywhere 6" all mountain bikes for the most part. In a perfect world I'd have 4 or 5 different bikes...

  9. #9
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    I ride a 29er hardtail, and have found it adequate for most everything I've tried. Be sure to get some beefy tires though, the stock xc race ones that came on mine were not very good for NE trails.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by gnar602 View Post
    Good point, I don't think anyone is saying you can't ride a hard tail around here... I've certainly seen it, but I'd say 90% of the bikers I see are on some type of full suspension. I'm not lucky enough to afford a lot of bikes so I stick with the go anywhere 6" all mountain bikes for the most part. In a perfect world I'd have 4 or 5 different bikes...
    I'm with you. I own three bikes, a road bike a 2 Mt. Bikes. The Mt. Bikes are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum so there's no overlap. I get a lot of years out of my bikes. The 29er is new but my big bike is going on 8 years of service.

  11. #11
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    I moved from Ann Arbor, Michigan to the North Shore six years ago when my company relocated to Cambridge. They moved me and several of my riding buddies. We were all so stunned by the challenging New England trails that most of us stopped riding for a year or two.

    The hardest trail I can think of in southeast Michigan (Heartland?) is still easier than the easiest trail on the North Shore (Willowdale).

    For trails as close to Midwest riding as you're going to get around here, look at Willowdale, The Fells, and Burlington's Landlocked Forest. If you're willing to travel, Vermont's Kingdom Trails have a lot of fast flow like Midwest rides. I also find the Cape Cod trails to be more "Midwesterny" - Otis, Trail of Tears, and Nickerson.

    Trails like Harold Parker, Lynn Woods, Dogtown, Salem Woods, and Fort Rock are on the opposite end of the spectrum. At first, I didn't think trails like that we're even rideable. I agree as above that Greenwood is somewhere in between.

    My purchase of a 29er FS got me back on the trails. Once I could ride that on the harder trails, I started riding my hard tail again too. Now I switch between 29er rigid and 29er FS. The 29er FS was the catalyst and if I could only have 1 bike, I would probably choose it.

    But ultimately, it's not the bike. Just get out there. Ride what you can for now. Walk the rest. Everyone walks at some point. Familiarity will build better skills than a new bike. And know you're not alone in the Midwest translocation "shock."

  12. #12
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    My opinion, unless you're bombing down 3 miles descents (which we don't have around here) or hucking off of 5ft. + drops, the difference between a hardtail and a FS is riding style and preference. I prefer a 29er hardtail because that's what I have more fun riding. I've been through quite a few FS bikes over the years (RIP9, Rumblefish, Heckler) but they all end up collecting dust and eventually sold while I favor my hardtail no matter how technical the terrain is.

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