Carbon S-Works Vs M5 S-Works frames only
Well I am finally going to retire the Breezer to road duty only this year and am looking seriously at the Stumpjumper hardtails, SJ FSRxc, and the Epic. I have always riden steel hardtails with rim brakes and don't have much experience with the disc or rear suspension scene, so I am looking for a little input. I have been talking with my local shop quite abit about the subject but still find myself on the fence with the subjects. I am a midwest rider with little desire for riding in the mud(call me a fare weather rider if you want I have done my time in the mud and muck and don't care to do it anymore) I understand that disc's have their benefits over rim brakes even in the dry but it just seems a bit over kill for my area of the country. I would consider myself a boarder line racer, I don't do much of it but ride that way thru the twisty and narrow so snappy handling and stiff climbing are important issues. So were I am going with this is: How does the S-Works HT Carbon frame compare in ride quality to a steel bike? I realize lateral stiffness will be much higher but will vertical compliance be as smooth are will it act more like a M5 aluminum frame? The only reason I brought up the Epic and the FSRxc is that I would like a bike to take North and West to make the downhills a little smoother. I may consider simply buying an extra frame and swaping components when I do go somewhere more mountainous than the flat lands here. Any input you may have will be appreciated.
Get an Epic. Seriously! The best of both worlds. Rides like a hardtail until you hit a bump (size of bump depending on how you tune the shock) then it rides like a sweet, plush, efficient bump eater. As soon as the terrain gets smooth again, you're on a hardtail. It climbs better than a hardtail due to better traction. I was on the fence forever about moving from a hardtail. I did all sorts of calculations (analyticcycling.com) for how the approx. extra 3 lbs of frame mass would hold me back on the climbs, and such. This was easy to calc. due to it being a static mass, vs. rotational. I determined that, for my most climb intensive race (Spring Thaw in Ashland, OR.), that during the steady 40 minute climb, the weight would only cost me about 30-40 seconds. I more than made up for that due the faster descending ability of full suspension, and I was already a very good descender before going w/ an Epic.
I am known as kind of a technology hold out amongst my racing peers. I have raced for 12 years on the MTB and am a Semi Pro, advancing into the Pro category this season. I also just finally took the plunge last summer into Tubeless tires and this year Disc brakes (from v-brakes). I had NO IDEA that those tech improvements could offer such a performance improvement. It's rediculously better!
Seriously, I highly recommend an Epic. One other added benefit that sets it apart from all other XC race style full suspension bikes is that you can put two bottles in the main triangle. Good stuff, since I hate camel backs.