New to FS and 29ers: Spearfish advice needed
I have been riding a hardtail 26er for the last few years and am ready to upgrade. I demo'd a Spearfish 1 in CO this summer and loved it. The ease of climbing, stability but lightness and "flickability" were all terrific.
I've also recently demo'd a Niner Jet 9 and it felt great, but not $4500 worth of great. I am interested to try the Santa Cruz Tallboy and Superlight, but am strongly leaning in the Spearfish direction.
This bike would also be my first full suspension. My question is, is a Spearfish 1 worth the difference in price over the Spearfish 2 and would I really notice the difference since this is my first FS? I have read many threads about people making minute suspension adjustments, etc and am wondering if I will end up being this particular, given my limited knowledge and experience. If I read correctly, the main differences between SF 1 and 2 are: better fork and shock, rear thru axle and slightly higher spec crank set, wheels, etc. Should I go with the 2 and upgrade parts as they wear out or should I go with the 1 and "grow into it" as I gain more experience with FS? Does the rear thru axle make that much difference?
My specs: 5'7", 173 lbs, 43yrs old
Riding style/skill level: Mostly East Coast singletrack with roots and rock gardens, plus riding every summer in CO (CB, Grand Junction, Fruita) and occasional trips to Moab. I'm a solid intermediate rider with occasional forays into black diamond territory.
Thanks for any advice you guys can offer.
I would say at your weight needing a thru axle rear isn't necessary. I'm 215 and could see how it would be nice sometimes at my weight... but it's not a "must have".
The Monarch RT rear shock and Reba thru axle fork both have really good reviews. Most everyone I have talked to loves their Spearfish's... so it's up to you what you would want to spend... but the 2 is a damn nice bike for the price.
I have a Spearfish that I built up myself. Using nothing crazy for parts it weighs 25 lbs as a 1x9.
I'm in CT and I love the bike for the terrain here. I have another longer travel bike that I might use for a handful of places, but for some reason the travel on the SF just feels like more than it is. And it climbs great. I didnt lke it much at first but it grew on me, now its my 'go to' bike. Long travel bikes are nice on downhills, but a lighter, good climbing bike(most of our rides are climbing in the east, right?) makes the ride less tiring.
Hope this helps
I'd go with the 2. You can buy a really nice wheelset with the price difference. I'm 275 and ride the 2011 frame with a 10 x 135 rear. It's plenty stiff.
I think I'd prefer the Reba over the fox fork also.
Depending on your budget and your needs/wants there are reasons you might go with any of the three SF models. The SF 2 seems to be the best "bang for the buck" for a well-equipped bike that rides VERY nicely, and has a nice but-not-blingy kit on it. The wheels are completely up-to-snuff, tho the hubs are not really light. (They do seem to be fairly indestructable though). The SF3 is a great entry-level on the same frame, and while the wheels are not as nice, if you PLAN on changing or upgrading parts, could be a better place to start. The SF1 is a really good value for a "top end" type of build. Salsa's kits are a great deal for the $$. They are centered on SRAM builds, and some people prefer Shimano equipment. We buy a few frames each year and have an SLX or XT build for the people who want to go that route. As a shop, we can't do an exact price match as SLX and XT don't really match up with SRAM's price points, but it is a nice option. I'm getting ready to add an FS bike to my fully-rigid SS quiver that I've been on the last 6 years... The SF will be the most likely candidate for both requirements and bang-for-buck. I'm not much of a hucker in my 50's and the SF can be a nice trail build for those of us just looking for a bit more of that "magic carpet ride" feel over the roots and rocks.
I used to struggle with this issue, and then decided to just blow up a customized Spearfish 1.
In all seriousness, though...here were my thoughts right after riding both back to back in Sedona for 4 days:
That said, the SF2 is a lusty rig in its own right. Hard to go wrong with it, but I do believe the SF1 is a worthy upgrade. The more time I spend with the SF1, the more I value the upgraded shock it has, as compared to the SF2.
When I wrote the review of the Spearfish 2, I said I’d like to see the following improvements: 1) lighter; 2) dropper seatpost; 3) tubeless. I said I didn’t think a rear thru-axle was necessary. After riding the Spearfish 1 and getting my seat height adjusted perfectly, here are my revised thoughts:
1) Yes, lighter is better. The lighter weight of the Spearfish 1 is completely palpable and totally appreciated.
2) Dropper seatpost isn’t needed for my kind of riding. With the seat properly adjusted, I can pedal in comfort and get behind the seat when needed. I’d prefer a lightweight carbon seatpost as the Spearfish 1 has.
3) I’d still like to go tubeless and drop some more weight (and add flat-resistance).
I’d supplement those by saying, as noted above, that the rear thru-axle is totally worth it. I’d also note that the upgraded derailleur is totally worth it, as is the upgraded fork and upgraded rear shock. If I were in the market for a mountain bike tomorrow, the Spearfish would be at the top of my list, and the Spearfish 1 would be worth the premium over the Spearfish 2.
In contemplating these reviews before riding the bikes, I was really expecting to say something like “the 80mm of rear travel was good for 90% of my riding, but there are some areas where I’d like 110mm or more…” In reality, the well-designed travel on the Spearfish is enough to do everything I’d ever want to do on a mountain bike. I’m not going to huck six foot drops. I’ve got enough problems hucking two foot drops. I’d take the simplicity, elegance, and climbing ability of this rear suspension all day long, against any other bike on the market. It just doesn’t get any better. It’s a truly amazing bike.
So with the Spearfish 1, what would I change? I’d go tubeless. A rim strip, a valve stem, some sealant. Voila. And that’s it. It’s 99.9% perfection.
And here's the full monty:
Earlier Spearfish 1 Review. This includes my thoughts on the comparison between the 2 bikes.
Custom Spearfish 1 (Superfish) Review.
Spearfish 2 Review (previous year's color).
I was recently in the budget for a new 29er FS mountain bike. I narrowed it down to a few bikes and the Spearfish was one of them. I had a budget of around $3,500 to maybe $4,000 at the most. After looking at the Spearfish 1 and 2 I decided to get the 2 because of the value. To me it wasn't worth the extra for the 1 even though I was fully expecting to pay that much. To me the only thing you were gaining was a rear through axle (which I probably couldn't tell the difference with) and an anodized paint job (which I liked the orange color better anyway). I agree with amadkins that the Reba fork is great and I don't consider it a downgrade.
I have loved it so far. It is an absolutely great climber and tons of fun on the down. Stock weight is pretty low (I think it was around 27.5 pounds on the 2) but plenty of room for improvement by changing seatpost, handlebars, etc. if you want. Or just ride as is and you will have no complaints.
You can see my original thread on choosing the SF here: Full Suspension Under $4K
Not seeing the prices of the 3 bikes, it looks like the 2 is the best deal. My SF is a 2011, with the Monarch rear and Reba front. I'm really impressed by both. The Reba is my first RS fork in many years, I have been using Fox and Manitou. I did take my fork apart and take out the travel spacer to give 120mm of travel, and I love that mod. Makes it a bit more slack for the steep downs we have here in the east.
But one of the posters above said it well, this bike is all I need. I am also in my 50's and dont do jumps or drops.
I just bought a Kona Satori, yet I still reach for the SF most of the time.
On your left.
The SF rear suspension requires a compromise - I either set it up to perform like suspension should where it really helps me clean rough climbs and descend rough trails more smoothly, but with some suspension action when pedaling on smooth flats and climbs -or- setup firmer (like a hardtail) for responsiveness but give up lots of the absorbing benefits. I have not yet found a happy medium and choose the former. Other bikes have more advanced suspensions that may give best of both worlds, but another justification for the SF is the relative simplicity - which appealed to me because I plan to use and keep the bike for a long time.
The bike is a very good value but you should ride all similar bikes and decide.
I too, wanted an inexpensive entry into a FS 29er. I bought the last 2011 Spearfish in Austin and I gave it up after a year. You can read my cross post here:
Spearfish for a clyde?
The main problem I had was that the SF was not a good match for the local trails I ride in Austin. The SF excels on fast, flowy singletrack but struggles in rougher terrain. If I lived somewhere else, I'd still have it.