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  1. #1
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    SOLO review vs. TRc 650b

    I had 650b-converted TRc that I really liked. The only (minor) complaints I had were that the front end tended to wander and lift on steep climbs, and I couldn't fit really fat tires on it. So I figured the SOLO's slightly longer chainstays would help the climbing and allow me to fit fatter tires. I sold the TRc and another bike, and I bought a new SOLOc. I got a great deal and decided to get the blinged-out XX1 Enve build. The TRc had a 2x10 XT drivetrain and Stan's Arch EX wheels. I've done about 6 rides on the SOLO and I'm still sorting out some things.

    Bottom line: I felt more comfortable and had more fun on the TRc. This doesn't make sense since both bikes have essentially the same geometry, so it must have to do with the cockpit setup and/or the new CTD fork and shock.

    Climbing: The SOLO is a more efficient pedaler and climber, with less bobbing. I don't know if this due to the new VPP 2.5 suspension design or the new CTD shock (vs. the RP23 on the TRc), or some combo of both. The TRc had some wallow in the mid-stroke that the SOLO does not have.

    Bump compliance: The TRc was a lot plusher. The SOLO lacks small bump compliance. The CTD fork seems to blow through its travel easily and has a lot of brake dive, even in the Trail setting, so I've raised the pressure which helps, but then the small bump compliance gets even worse. Even in Descend it isn't as plush as the old RLC fork was.

    Descending: The TRc descended better because it absorbed the bumps better and the front end didn't dive as much.

    Cornering: The TRc seemed to corner better, and I just had more confidence pushing it in the turns. The TRc had a taller bottom bracket height (due to the 650b conversion) and smaller tires (2.25 vs 2.35 Nobby Nics), so you would expect the SOLO to corner better, so this is weird.

    Playfulness and balance: The TRc just felt more balanced going over obstacles, and felt more playful and easier to manual. The longer stays on the SOLO would partly explain why it wouldn't be as easy to manual, but my Tallboy has even longer stays and feels just as easy to manual. I'm thinking this must be due to cockpit setup. The TRc had 685mm wide bars and a 100mm stem (started with an 80mm stem but put the longer stem on to help climbing). The SOLO has 711mm bars and an 80mm stem.

    Rock strikes: Noticed a ton of pedal strikes on the first ride. Not too bad on subsequent rides.

    Other stuff:
    - I don't like SRAM triggers. I miss the Shimano trigger's instant release, double release (can drop 2 cogs with one push), and multiple release (can push or pull to drop down a cog). Plus, the location of the release lever is more comfortable on the Shimano triggers. I will switch the XX1 trigger to grip shift.

    - Other than not liking the trigger shifter, the XX1 drivetrain has worked great. It's quiet, shifts well, and I haven't dropped a chain. I put a 32t chainring on it, which provides a pretty good range for me. I've only used the small cog going downhill on pavement, and there has only been one climb where I was really wishing for a lower climbing gear. I have a 30t Wolftooth chainring that I'll probably install to give me that lower climbing gear.


    So, I like the SOLO but don't love it (yet). I think the fork needs some tuning, and I need to make sure it has the proper oil levels in it (the Fox FIT RLC fork on my Tallboy had almost no oil in it when new so it's good to check). The rear suspension feels good -- it's more controlled and efficient but not as plush as the TRc, which is fine with me since I like a pretty firm rear suspension (I ride a hardtail about a third of the time). I'll also play with the cockpit setup some more. It measures about the same as my other bikes, but the wider bars give a different feel. I already went from the stock 70mm stem to an 80mm and like it better. I need to experiment a little more with bar height and upsweep.

  2. #2
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    Aloha, thanks so much for the report. I've been wondering this myself. So many choices out there right now. Thanks!

  3. #3
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    Very interesting... I have a Blur LT set up as 650b, and I've been wondering how much (if any) benefit there would be in switching to the Bronson. Your post somewhat confirmed my initial thinking, that the difference isn't worth it and could actually be a negative trade-off. Obviously not the same bikes, but the comparisons are similar.

    It just goes to show you that newer isn't always better, and the grass isn't always greener. Thanks for your honest review; it's nice to see someone willing to criticize their new- and very expensive- bike purchase for a change as opposed to the thousands of "this is the best bike ever" reviews.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the review.

    1. have you looked into getting the suspension tuned (by PUSH or someone else) on the Solo? it would probably cure your complaints mostly, if not entirely.

    2. you say you couldn't fit 'fat' tires on the TR but you were only running 2.25 Nobby Nics. you can run bigger on a TR can't you? ... should fit most 2.4s, and pretty much any 2.35.

    3. stem length has a huge relation to weight distribution and ability to wheelie & manual. total reach is top tube, bar width, and stem length, but weight distribution is almost entirely about stem length. (the 'almost' is arm and torso length... which obviously doesn't change. ) I'd get a few cheap stems and experiment, or you could measure carefully and take your best shot. or you can see if your riding buddies have a spare stem close to what you think you'd want to try.

    4. definitely get the twist shifter. I run 2x10 twisters on my bike and I love being able to cover my brakes, wheelie, and shift without changing hand position... just alter your grip and twist your wrist. plus if you want to shift up & down multiple gears you just keep pedaling and keep twisting. you'll love it.

  5. #5
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    Doh. #2 is because you had a 650B TRc. You could've run fatter 26" tires than 2.25.

  6. #6
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    Good review. It does sound like most of the negatives for the Solo revolve around suspension (esp. the fork). Hopefully you can get that sorted out so you completely love the bike you just spent that much money on!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColinL View Post
    Thanks for the review.
    Thanks for the reply

    Quote Originally Posted by ColinL View Post
    1. have you looked into getting the suspension tuned (by PUSH or someone else) on the Solo? it would probably cure your complaints mostly, if not entirely.
    Like I said, I need to sort out the suspension and cockpit, and then I suspect I'll love the bike. I don't think PUSH is tuning the CTD stuff yet, but I'm sure they will soon. I like the rear suspension fine, it's just the fork that's bothering me for now. I called Fox and they said that I have the 2014 damper, so I need to take it apart and make sure oil levels are correct. Then I can play with air pressure and CTD settings, and I might try adding more float fluid to the air chamber to make it more progressive.

    I got the rear shock on my Tallboy custom tuned by PUSH and I like it a lot. I've had the TBc for over 2 years and I still love that bike. I didn't need another FS bike, but some experiments with 26" and 650b led me to getting the TRc and SOLO. If I can't get the CTD stuff to feel the way I want I might eventually send them to PUSH.

    Quote Originally Posted by ColinL View Post
    2. you say you couldn't fit 'fat' tires on the TR but you were only running 2.25 Nobby Nics. you can run bigger on a TR can't you? ... should fit most 2.4s, and pretty much any 2.35.
    I'm talking about 650b tires. The 27.5x2.25 Nobby Nics fit the TRc fine. The rear tire just buzzed the fd cable hanger on the back of the seat tube at full compression, so I shimmed the shock a bit just for insurance. A bigger tire like the 27.5x2.35 NN wouldn't fit. The 2.25s actually performed great, but that size was not available in the snakeskin version, and I worried about durability in the rocky terrain I ride. The 27.5x2.35 NN measures 27.9" tall, so it rolls through rock gardens almost as well as a 29er, and I personally like high volume tires.

    Quote Originally Posted by ColinL View Post
    3. stem length has a huge relation to weight distribution and ability to wheelie & manual. total reach is top tube, bar width, and stem length, but weight distribution is almost entirely about stem length. (the 'almost' is arm and torso length... which obviously doesn't change. ) I'd get a few cheap stems and experiment, or you could measure carefully and take your best shot. or you can see if your riding buddies have a spare stem close to what you think you'd want to try.
    I currently have 70, 80, and 90mm stems to play with. For the past few years I've been typically running 685mm wide bars with 90mm stems. My hardtail has a longer top tube so I run an 80mm stem and bars with more backsweep. The SOLO came with 750mm bars, which I figured would be too wide for my liking, so I swapped them for some 711mm wide bars, which are still wider than I'm used to. I rode the 711mm bars with the stock 70mm stem, which felt okay. Then I installed the 80mm stem to try it, and I like it a bit better. It seems like the wide bars and 70mm stem would be easier to manual than my typical setup, but that didn't seem to be the case. I think it might be that the fork is often lower in its travel. I'll bump up fork pressure some more for my next ride and see.

    I also don't usually like much (or any) upsweep on handlebars, but I'm playing with upsweep (via bar rotation) to try out different amounts of upsweep.

    Quote Originally Posted by ColinL View Post
    4. definitely get the twist shifter. I run 2x10 twisters on my bike and I love being able to cover my brakes, wheelie, and shift without changing hand position... just alter your grip and twist your wrist. plus if you want to shift up & down multiple gears you just keep pedaling and keep twisting. you'll love it.
    Yes, I used Grip Shift for decades and just a few years ago got some Shimano triggers when I switched to 10-speed stuff. I like the Shimano triggers, but I still like grip shift too. One issue is that the short Shimano brake levers, which are perfect for 1-finger braking, are a little short for use with the grip shifts. But I'm sure I can get used to it. I've also read about some reliability issues with the XX1 grip shifter.

    I also wonder if the stiff Enve wheels make the ride feel more harsh. I wouldn't think it would matter on a full-suspension bike, but who knows.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColinL View Post
    Doh. #2 is because you had a 650B TRc. You could've run fatter 26" tires than 2.25.
    Yeah, when I had 26" wheels on the TRc I had a big 2.4 Purgatory up front (which was probably overkill) and a 2.3 Ground Control on the rear.

  9. #9
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    Do you have the '13 float? If so, check out this thread.

    I've got a bronson and it took a couple of rides to get the float tuned in. It was the same types of issues you are describing: blowing through the platform and diving in hard corners. I ended up adding a lot more air than the factory tune. Another buddy of mine with the same fork who's a little heavier than me (by 60lbs, probably!) had to add air + some oil.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeePhroh View Post
    Do you have the '13 float? If so, check out this thread.

    I've got a bronson and it took a couple of rides to get the float tuned in. It was the same types of issues you are describing: blowing through the platform and diving in hard corners. I ended up adding a lot more air than the factory tune. Another buddy of mine with the same fork who's a little heavier than me (by 60lbs, probably!) had to add air + some oil.
    Mine is a 2014 Float, but seems to have some of the similar issues.
    What's your weight and how much pressure do you use?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jabrabu View Post
    Mine is a 2014 Float, but seems to have some of the similar issues.
    What's your weight and how much pressure do you use?
    I'm about 145 in full gear (includes a beer), and I'm running about 75 in mine (stock OEM '13 150mm float factory ctd kashima) -- ~10lbs more than recommended. Before adding the extra air, I'd almost never run it in full "Descend" mode -- with the gate wide open, it was pretty frightening on the steeps.

    I don't know what the exact procedure was with adding the oil, however, my buddy likes his float (a 29" 34, btw) a whole lot better since he tuned it.

    I thought I heard that fox "fixed" some of the problems people were having in the new '14 lineup; but who knows. Not ready to ditch it quite yet, but there are a lot of good options out there like the Pike...

  12. #12
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    Re: SOLO review vs. TRc 650b

    Quote Originally Posted by jabrabu View Post
    Mine is a 2014 Float, but seems to have some of the similar issues.
    What's your weight and how much pressure do you use?
    Since you have owned the same bikes as me, I was looking forward to your comparison. I still have both - TBc and TRc and considering the same move towards the Solo.
    Now I am not so sure anymore...
    I might go for a pushed RP23 and keep the TRc instead.
    Have you noticed any significant benefits of the steeper ST?
    How about the longer WB?
    If you could do it all over without a crazy deal on the bike would you go for it?
    Last edited by jazzanova; 10-08-2013 at 01:40 PM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzanova View Post
    Since you have owned the same bikes as me, I was looking forward to your comparison. I still have both - RNC and TRc and considering the same move towards the Solo.
    Now I am not so sure anymore...
    I might go for a pushed RP3 and keep the TRc instead.
    Have you noticed any significant benefits of the steeper ST?
    How about the longer WB?
    If you could do it all over without a crazy deal on the bike would you go for it?
    Right now I would say that if I could do it all over I would probably just keep the converted TRc and have the RP23 shock PUSHed. I bought the frame on closeout and had all the parts to build it except for the fork and wheels, so I didn't have a ton of money in it. However, there are some things I like better about the Solo, and I think that once I get things sorted out I will really like it.

    If I could just keep one bike, though, it would be the TBc. That bike just does everything so well, from XC racing to technical trail riding. It climbs great, is comfortable on long rides, rolls through rock gardens well, and is quite tossable and playful for a 29er. The areas where the TRc was better was rocky downhills and fast twisty trails. My long-term plan is lighten up the TBc with a 1x11 drivetrain and maybe some new wheels and make it more of an XC and endurance race bike, and use the Solo for general trail riding.

    The steeper ST helps climbing, but I have ended up moving my saddle way back on the rails, which effectively makes it slacker. I just feel like it fits me better that way, and I move to the front of saddle for steep climbs.

    I don't really notice the WB differences. I was surprised to find out that the TBc has a shorter wheelbase than the Solo since the TB has longer chainstays. I guess the slacker head angle moves the front wheel out.

    Another geometry difference between the TR and Solo is that the Solo has 0.6" more stack height. I'm going to remove some spacers to get the bars down to where they were on the TRc and see how that feels. Right now they are level with the saddle height, but I usually like them just a bit lower.

  14. #14
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    Here's an update. I've been sorting out the Solo, and I'm liking it better now.

    I rotated the handlebars back to get rid of most of the upsweep and increase the backsweep. Upsweep just seems to put too much pressure on the outside of my palms, and I don't really understand its purpose.

    I swapped the XX1 trigger shifter for a grip shifter. I like it a lot better.

    I swapped the 32t XX1 chainring for a 30t Wolftooth ring w/ bash guard. This gives a little bit better gearing range for my ability and the terrain I ride. I also like having a bash guard since my trails include a lot of rocks and logs.

    I opened up the Fox CTD fork to make sure the oil levels were correct. Some oil came out of the lowers, but it didn't look like very much. I soaked the foam rings and added the recommended 30cc to each lower leg. The float fluid level in the air chamber looked okay, but I drained it and added a new pack of float fluid to make sure it had the right amount. After the service the fork had noticeably less stiction, such that I had to increase the rebound damping.

    I've done some rides since the changes, and I'm liking it a lot better. I've been running the fork in the Descend setting most of the time, with the rear shock in Trail #1. With the fork at 80 psi and the shock at 150 psi I don't get full travel, but pretty close to it. It isn't real plush, but it feels very composed.

    As an experiment, I might add some float fluid to the fork's air chamber to make the spring rate more progressive and lower the air pressure to improve small bump compliance.

    SOLO review vs. TRc 650b-solo-twister.jpgSOLO review vs. TRc 650b-solo-wolftooth.jpg

  15. #15
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    Re: SOLO review vs. TRc 650b

    JABRABU:
    Do you still think the 650b TRc is more nimble than the Solo?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzanova View Post
    JABRABU:
    Do you still think the 650b TRc is more nimble than the Solo?
    I would say yes, the TRc is a bit more nimble feeling and feels smaller. I'm not sure why, though, since the geometries are pretty much the same. The 1/4" longer chainstays could be part of it, but that really isn't much difference. It could be the big 2.35 Schwalbe tires compared to the 2.25s I was using on the TRc. Or maybe the 27.5" Fox fork compared to the 26" fork. I don't know.

    The trade-off is that the Solo climbs better and pedals more efficiently.

  17. #17
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    I too am a TRc owner. I have experimeted with the 650b/TRC conversion and ultimately prefer the TRC w/ 26" wheels for the added playfulness and flickability. I enjoyed the 27.5' wheels and feel their advantages in momentum, angle of attack and contact patch are worthwhile. I am curious with your Solo, given the 2.35" tires what is the actual measured BB height you measure? I am hoping it is closer to the 12.8" like the TRC when using 2.25" tires (as opposed to the 13.1" stated), as I believe this makes the biggest difference to handling. I am also curious what the offset is of the Fox 27.5 fork? This will affect handling due to the trail measurement. I have not been able to get an answer from Fox on this. Given that 26" is 38mm, and 29" is 48- 52mm , I would hope that the Fox 27.5 trail is more like 44mm? all of these numbers affect the perceived differences in handling, right?

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    I measured my BB height around 13.2", but that was a rough measurement. I actually wish it were a bit higher since I ride rocky terrain and get pedal strikes. That was one thing I liked about the 27.5" wheels on the TRc -- it reduced the number of pedal strikes. I also didn't notice any loss in playfulness or handling with the bigger wheels, and it rolled through rock gardens better. For me, the conversion was a total win. However, note that my front 26" tire was a big 26x2.4 Purgatory, so the 27.5x2.25 Nobby Nic wasn't much bigger in diameter. In the rear I went from a 26x2.3 Ground Control to a 27.5x2.25 Nobby Nic.

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    To confirm your actual BB measurement of 13.2", perhaps when you get a chance you can also measure the ground to axle height, front/ rear (as the tire diameter really varies and will affect the reporting of the actual bb measurement). I find it is best to use a framing square off of a level surface.

  20. #20
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    Great review and update. Thanks for doing this.

    I'm curious to hear your ride report and comparison after 100 miles since it takes a while to get the shock, fork, and the tires to get that worn in feel, sort of like your baseball glove. I'm sure your TRc was dialed in and had some good miles on it. Would really like to know what the Solo is like after it has 'broken in'.

  21. #21
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    Re: SOLO review vs. TRc 650b

    Anybody else with TRc to Solo experience, who could pitch in?
    I have just recently demoed a Bronson and waiting for a Solo to be available for a demo.
    So basically trying to determine which way to go...
    I am only a bit disappointed with the Solos weight, which is a bit more than the TRc.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzanova View Post
    I am only a bit disappointed with the Solos weight, which is a bit more than the TRc.
    It's a bigger bike due to being 27.5" instead of 26". The frame is a bit heavier, and the fork wheels and tires are heavier also.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by smmokan View Post
    Very interesting... I have a Blur LT set up as 650b, and I've been wondering how much (if any) benefit there would be in switching to the Bronson. Your post somewhat confirmed my initial thinking, that the difference isn't worth it and could actually be a negative trade-off. Obviously not the same bikes, but the comparisons are similar.

    It just goes to show you that newer isn't always better, and the grass isn't always greener. Thanks for your honest review; it's nice to see someone willing to criticize their new- and very expensive- bike purchase for a change as opposed to the thousands of "this is the best bike ever" reviews.
    I am in the exact same boat.
    I have a BLT2 frame in the garage...debating on building it, or trying to sell and save for a Bronson.
    Currently riding a 650b Nickel, and wanted something a second, burlyier bike. my biggest issue is that my blur has an 1 1/8" straight HT, so my fork choice is limited. 34 or 35mm, 15qr, 150+ travel fork with a 1 1/8" steerer doesn't seem to exist...

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by reformed roadie View Post
    my blur has an 1 1/8" straight HT, so my fork choice is limited. 34 or 35mm, 15qr, 150+ travel fork with a 1 1/8" steerer doesn't seem to exist...
    older forks with 20mm axle do exist. by the time they moved to various 15mm axles, they were almost all tapered.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ColinL View Post
    older forks with 20mm axle do exist. by the time they moved to various 15mm axles, they were almost all tapered.
    I know...both 650b wheels I have happen to have 15qr, not convertible hubs.

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