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  1. #1
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    Used Elements; '11 70MSL or '12 Element BC?

    Hi there,

    I'm a 6' 220lb 40 year-old rider coming back into the sport after many years off. I used to love cross country riding, climbing, and nice technical trails. I think I still feel that way. My last mountain bike - which I destroyed on the North Shore - was a GT RTS full suspension.

    I'll be riding the endowment lands (kids stuff mostly), Squamish, SFU, Lower Seymour, Whistler, the Shore, but I'll live vicariously through youtube for anything crazier. I'll be riding sometimes with my kids (flat, smooth, easy), sometimes by myself on stuff that's gnarlier? Is that the word?

    I'm probably not going to race, but I can afford something that I hope would last me years (both durability and in developing skills).


    One problem - I arrive back to mountain biking in the middle of this wheel debate. I'm currently leaning towards two bikes - an 11 Element 70MSL 26 or a '12 Element BC edition. They're within a few hundred bucks of each other in terms of the price and each has spec that is in their favour. I prefer the Shimano kit and R1 brakes on the MSL, but you get a dropper post on the BC Edition - that kind of thing.

    Would one of these bikes be more suitable for a heavier rider? Am I officially a Clydesdale waiting to just wreck a 29 wheel? Should I avoid riding a 29er on the trails and stick with what I used to know? i.e. is ignorance bliss?

    I've test ridden them both in non-trail-test-ride-situations and frankly could not tell the difference in the wheel sizes!

    Oh crap - what's this 650b thing now?!?


    I totally don't want to ignite a wheel debate - but I am suffering some analysis-paralysis! Is there anything else I should be thinking about? Questions I should be asking myself?

    Regards,

    Quinn

  2. #2
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    The 29" Element BC edition has a very short shock with a small air chamber, at 220 pounds you may find it harder to get a reasonable tune and get the compression/rebound settings where they need to be. I'm about 200 pounds and it took about 240 PSI to get a 29" Element shock to be in the right range.

    On the other hand I have a Element 70 MSL and I really like the behaviour of the suspension and the pedaling performance. It's easy to get it setup to be both plush and well behaved.

    Both bikes have fairly low BB heights, although the 29" BC edition is slightly better than the 70 MSL. On relatively smooth trails it won't be an issue, but when crossing roots and rocks, you may find pedal strike becomes a bit of a nuisance.

    The 29" wheels will roll through roots and baby heads more easily, but the 26" bike is more nimble on the twisty stuff.
    I'm a member of NSMBA and IMBA Canada

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the input - I wouldn't have thought about the short shock as a potential tuning issue for heavier riders. Curse my husky good looks!

    In terms of some long term potential, which bike do you think will be more flexible, easier to update?

    And I think I'm going to have to learn some more terminology. I'm sure baby heads aren't what I think they are.

    Thanks again!

  4. #4
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    For the trails you're describing the Element 70 MSL does work really well and can handle some challenging stuff. Although probably not this stuff with a rider at 220 pounds...

    https://vimeo.com/40560345

    Hardware wise, with the Element 70 MSL you can upgrade everything but wheel size. Both bikes require some regular maintenance of the pivot bushings (annual at least, maybe twice a year if you ride in the wet much).

    I think you'd find the Element 70 MSL easier to get a comfy suspension settings. I really like the confidence inspiring handling on my Element 70 MSL. It's been my 'go to' bike since I bought it in March 2011.

    If you were picking a new bike, I'd say the 29" wheel bike of choice would be the Instinct MSL, as it has adjustable geometry and the option of a higher BB and adjustability for rider weight ranges with the Ride9 adjustment. And it has a big shock on it.

    Baby head rock gardens would be about what it sounds like, a bunch of rocks about 4"-6" diameter buried in the dirt... like so. 29" wheels make this stuff much smoother.

    Used Elements; '11 70MSL or '12 Element BC?-2013_0713new0015.jpg

    Quote Originally Posted by qduffy View Post
    Thanks for the input - I wouldn't have thought about the short shock as a potential tuning issue for heavier riders. Curse my husky good looks!

    In terms of some long term potential, which bike do you think will be more flexible, easier to update?

    And I think I'm going to have to learn some more terminology. I'm sure baby heads aren't what I think they are.

    Thanks again!
    I'm a member of NSMBA and IMBA Canada

  5. #5
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    You can definitely pimp out an Element 70 MSL. With carbon wheels, carbon cranks, and 3x9 drivetrain my bike weighs 22.8 pounds.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Used Elements; '11 70MSL or '12 Element BC?-2012_0405new0004-004.jpg  

    I'm a member of NSMBA and IMBA Canada

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockyuphill View Post
    You can definitely pimp out an Element 70 MSL. With carbon wheels, carbon cranks, and 3x9 drivetrain my bike weighs 22.8 pounds.

    That's cool. I saw that Simmons video too...inspiring for sure but I'd definitely be taking the easier lines. Either way, I'll end up with a great bike - which is one more bike than I have now!

  7. #7
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    I rode the BC Edition again today and I think I understand a bit more about the 29er thing. I didn't have a real serious ride but I think I started to see the pros and cons emerging. Definitely a little more energy (and I mean a little) to get things going, but man, it could tractor up some inclines that I'm positive I couldn't have made on a smaller wheel. Whether that's true or not is immaterial I guess - I feel the 26 would have spun out. I had the rear shock up to about 250psi, the front to about 120 or so (that Fox TALAS 32 really likes to dive!) and at those values, the bike felt pretty good. A couple of nice drops felt really plush and stable. And I could get the front end up really easily. For the first part of the ride, the Fox was set to the low side and that made the geometry of the 29er feel weird. At full travel, the head comes up and the bike feels a lot more comfortable and familiar.

    I also rode an Instinct today - a 950 - and while I liked the slack head angle, comfortable posture and that both front and rear suspension would lock out for road/climbs, I felt that the extra weight wouldn't suit the riding I see myself doing. It felt really hefty - stable, but heavy compared to the Elements. Maybe for my next bike. Or maybe a Thunderbolt might fit the bill.

    Remembering back to the ride on the 70 MSL; I could feel the extra rear suspension travel, but I also remember the front end hunting a lot on the flats, like a bloodhound tracking back and forth. Almost like every pedal stroke caused the bike to counter to the opposite side. Maybe part of the set up, maybe the shorter wheelbase, but the front end was definitely a little more active. Great R1 brakes though - way better feel than the Avid 9x on the BC Edition. An upgrade for later.

    I also started to get the feel of the SRAM ergos, although I think I still prefer Shimano's feel. Maybe another future upgrade/sidegrade.

    So I think I'm leaning towards the BC Edition at this point.

  8. #8
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    I had an Instinct 970 over the past year and I now have an Instinct 999 MSL frame built up. The 970 was around 30 pounds and the 999 MSL is at 26 pounds, it makes a huge difference. The head angle on the Instinct is adjustable from 67.7-69.3 deg so it can be slacker but doesn't have to be.

    I'd say the rear shock on the 70 MSL might have been a bit soft if the front end felt vague, the head angle on the 70 MSL and the 970 BC Edition are within 0.1 degree of each other (69.5 on Element 70 and 69.6 on the Element BC Edition).

    But the 29" wheels do have an advantage with momentum, once you get 'em going they roll over most things.
    I'm a member of NSMBA and IMBA Canada

  9. #9
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    So I ended up with the Element 970 BC edition. Got a great price, couldn't pass it up considering the bike was basically brand new.

    I noticed the Reverb was a bit sticky; slow to pop up and it wouldn't extend fully - so I checked the air pressure and now it's pooched. Operates almost in reverse, like adding psi is creating suction.

    Anyway, I posted my issues here if anyone has experience with these things;

    RockShox Reverb Thread

    Thanks again rockyuphill for all your feedback - it was super close with the 70 MSL, but a bike that's a bunch newer for a tiny bit more money and a bit more stable feeling to boot kinda won out.

    Hoping to get a few km on this weekend - if it doesn't snow. Aw heck, even if it does snow...I'm going!

  10. #10
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    Sadly with Reverbs it does seem to be a matter of when, not if it will have problems. The seat post clamp might be just a tad tight as well, it should only be tight enough to prevent slippage with some carbon assembly paste in the seat tube. If it's too tight it can squeeze the Reverb post and slow it down.
    I'm a member of NSMBA and IMBA Canada

  11. #11
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    Right, I came across that. That might have been the initial problem and then I blew something up. Boo.

    Oh well, I have a carbon post I can use in the short term until I get it sorted out.

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