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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jun 2004

    To Brain or not to Brain

    That is the question.

    So I had a short list of full suspension bikes I was looking at. At first, I thought a Trek Fuel might be the one, but then decided I needed to look at the Stumpjumpers and the Rocky Mountain Altitude as well. And then a few shops I went to said that 29'ers were the way to go in my region(New England), so I've been looking at them also.

    For the Stumpjumpers, I figured if they rode well, and the Brain did what it's supposed to do, then that was gonna be the hands down choice. I got to ride a 2010 Expert 29'er, and a 2011 Comp 29'er, just around the parking lot, but felt the Brain made a huge difference, and was a must have. Without it, the bike seemed to bob quite a bit.

    Last week at NEMBAfest, I rode an Altitude 29'er. Liked it well enough. The next day I tested a Trek Fuel, and it felt sluggish in comparison, I just couldn't seem to get it to move. Right after that, tried a Rumblefish, and that thing just flew where the Fuel seemed like it needed effort to move. So it looks like I'm gonna be a 29'er convert.

    Today I rode a 2010 Expert 29'er, and a 26" Comp. Liked them both. The 26" felt more like the 29'er in terms of overall ride comparison than the comparison between the 26" Trek and the Fisher 29'er. The Expert 29'er still seemed like it was less effort to keep moving, but not too huge a difference. Both climbed pretty well, and felt totally in control coming back down. Tried a Rumblefish again, and if didn't seem like it was better than the Stumpies, so I think I'll stick with them.

    Test route was basically a rocky, leafy, fire road climb and then descent, didn't get to try them out on any narrow twisty singletrack, so couldn't really explore their handling abilities too much. But pedalling the 26" without Brain didn't feel that bad, I wasn't feeling a whole lot of bob unless I stood or purposely mashed the pedals, and I figured I could live with this ride without the Brain. And it could save me quite a bit of cash.

    But I also figure if I can swing the money for the Expert with Brain, I might as well do so. It's not gonna hurt anything to have it. What do you guys think?

  2. #2
    mtbr dismember
    Reputation: Wherewolf's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004


    I'm no expert but I went from an Epic with brain, to Stumpy without brain, to Stumpy with brain. The brain makes a huge difference. I've got a 29er Stumpy with brain coming in this week.

  3. #3
    Riding in North VA
    Reputation: APO.Guy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    I've posted similar questions of threads for a while now.

    Long story short I went with the Brain, actually I ordered a 2011 Stumpjumper FSR Elite (Black/Lime).

    First, I figure I can afford it so why not. Second, the models with Brain have other components that make it a higher-end bike. You're not just paying for the Brain, but a better fork, crank, etc. Also, it seems to me that you can't get any better than the best of both worlds, HT when the Brain locks and flush when the Brain is open.

    If you ever don't want the Brain you can always "turn it off" by making it soft, but that would be a shame IMO.
    MTBing in Colombia with my 2011 FSR Stumpjumper Elite

  4. #4
    On wuss patrol
    Reputation: Glide the Clyde's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Brain. I have nothing more to say.
    Sometimes, you need to go fast enough that the trail is a blur to find clarity. -- Wild Bill

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    simple choice...the brain. after intial setup two years ago, i haven't messed with the dials at all. does what it's supposed to do.

  6. #6
    Trail Rider
    Reputation: mlx john's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010

    Another vote for the Brain

    Especially the Fox Brain

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