New bike advice
Need a little help here, been waffling worse than Brett Farve . Pretty sure I want a 29er, this will be my only bike. I am coming from a sweet Scott Scale 20 (26 carbon hardtail, 22lbs). Typical ride for me is 15-25 miles and race 15-20 miles. Narrowed down to a Specialized Stumpy HT 29 and an Epic Marathon 29. Of course the Epic is a much sweeter bike and should be a no brainer but my concern is losing the climbing and sprinting ability in relation to a HT. At age 42, FS is appealing. Retail price is about $3000 apart but fortunately my wife has no problem with me dropping the cash on the Epic, as long as I keep it for the next few years (this will be my 3rd bike this year). The fast racers around here seem to run HT 29ers (Superfly). I really want the Epic, just dont want to handicap myself too much...if thats possible. I raced Citizen class this year and did well with a few wins and plan on running sport next year, competition will be much tougher, should be an eye opener for me. Thoughts?
I think you would be pleasantly surprised at how responsive the Epic is. With the brain set firm it sprints like a hard tail. Did you see how much the Marathon weighs? The XL I have was 25.6 out of the box and 26.19 with Look pedals. Weight can be shed but it should be plenty fast for you now then as you get faster make some upgrades!
There's a review thread for the Epic 29 bikes here in the Specialized discussions as well as in the 29er forum. If you haven't already, read up on what others are saying. I may be biased but I love it so far and am really looking forward to racing it.
The weight could be a bit of a handicap once you get up to the expert/cat 2 and above classes but by then maybe she'll let you buy some lighter racing wheels and blingy carbon bits.
Unless the courses are really smooth, you are going to be faster on a FS. Toss in a couple of questionable downhills and you are really gonna be gaining time.
Also, you said this is your only bike, but you are talking like a racer for most of your post. You should consider that in your off time, you are going to want a fun bike. Not a torture rack racer. I think the stumpjumper is a great middle ground. The epic is more race focused, but it still going to be more fun as your one bike than a hardtail.
Thanks for your opinions. Racing is my passion at the moment but riding/training is obviously what I mainly will use the bike for. I would be surprised if I ever progress past sport class as family and job restrict my training time. This has been my first year of serious mtn biking so my priorities will probably change from racing to recreational trail riding over the next few years. I think I will go with the Epic as its not very often that I could afford a bike like this as I have sold my bike, as well as an old motorcycle that wasnt being used. While typing this original post last night, I had talked myself into the Epic but would still appreciate opinions.
Looking in the 2010 Specialized cat on the Epic 29er page, the photo of the racer on the white bike, that bike looks huge! Having a hard time imagining weaving that thing through some tight twisty singletrack! Especially coming off a very light 26 carbon HT.