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  1. #1
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    What AM Frame for Texas?

    What's going on guys, I'm hoping to get some help choosing an AM frame for a build I'm looking to here at the end of summer. I'm from DFW but I'll be moving to San Marcos here soon for the last year or so of university so I'll be riding around San Marcos / Austin pretty frequently

    Since I'm a broke university student and this will be my main bike I'm looking to build a do it all bike for around $1500 - $2000 but I'd like to stay closer to the $1500 side of things, I was thinking an AM hardtail would fit the bill?

    I'll be using the bike mostly for XC 95% of the time but I'd also like to make some trips out to freeride 512 to ride some bike park on the weekends. I was looking at building the following frames but I'm pretty damn indecisive when it comes to a big purchases

    Ragley Blue Pig
    Ragley Piglet
    Transition TransAM (26 or 650b)
    Cotic BFE / Cotic Soul (650b)
    Bird Cycleworks Zero 650b (Assuming I can get my hands on one)

    What do you guys think would be best for the type of riding I'm looking to do? I'm open to other bike suggestions as well and buying components / a bike used is something I'm definitely open to.

  2. #2
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    I'm in Austin and I've got a Ragley Blue Pig. This thing is burley as hell and can handle more than I can. There are two drawbacks to it. One is weight. I'm not a weight weenie, but it's a steel hardtail that weighs around 30 lbs with an average and not particularly heavy build. I could get rid of the dropper, but I use it too much and would miss it. The weight is an acceptable trade off to me. The second drawback is a 66.5 degree head angle. The front end wanders and wants to lift on climbs. That can be mitigated by leaning a little more over the bars, but I spin out a bit more as a result of the weight shift.

    All that being said, this thing is made for downhills and technical trails. This is one of the few hardtails that doesn't feel out classed at City Park or some of the gnarlier parts of the Greenbelt. It's ideal for Brushy Creek and most of the Spicewood trails too. I tend to get gassed if I ride it at Walnut Creek due to the speed of the place if I go riding with others. There's only so much speed my lard ass can get out of a 30lb bike with a 30 tooth single ring up front.

    I built it for around $1500 plus or minus a couple of hundred. XT shifter, cassette and derailler, Raceface 30t NW with the Evolve crankset, nib Sektor R 150mm fork I got for a steal off Pinkbike, Nukeproof Warhead stem and headset, SLX brakes, Sun Ringle Black Flag wheelset, Speccy Ground Control 2.3 up front with a Speccy Purgatory Control in 2.2 out back, KS i190 dropper and either Forte flats or Candy clips depending on what I am riding.

    I recently had the opportunity to swap a 650b fork and rear wheel on it for a day and it fit just fine as long as the rear tire isn't over 2.2. After that you would have clearance issues especially with mud. It rode great and didn't feel like the bottom bracket had been raised too far. The small rollover boost on climbing ledges was noticeable but not huge. The bike felt bigger, but again it wasn't that big of a deal even though the thing is a bit long already with the slack head angle. You could easily throw a 140mm 650b fork on there and have no problems. The frame build is strong enough that the added stress on the headtube area wouldn't matter that much.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrMentallo View Post
    I'm in Austin and I've got a Ragley Blue Pig. This thing is burley as hell and can handle more than I can. There are two drawbacks to it. One is weight. I'm not a weight weenie, but it's a steel hardtail that weighs around 30 lbs with an average and not particularly heavy build. I could get rid of the dropper, but I use it too much and would miss it. The weight is an acceptable trade off to me. The second drawback is a 66.5 degree head angle. The front end wanders and wants to lift on climbs. That can be mitigated by leaning a little more over the bars, but I spin out a bit more as a result of the weight shift.

    All that being said, this thing is made for downhills and technical trails. This is one of the few hardtails that doesn't feel out classed at City Park or some of the gnarlier parts of the Greenbelt. It's ideal for Brushy Creek and most of the Spicewood trails too. I tend to get gassed if I ride it at Walnut Creek due to the speed of the place if I go riding with others. There's only so much speed my lard ass can get out of a 30lb bike with a 30 tooth single ring up front.

    I built it for around $1500 plus or minus a couple of hundred. XT shifter, cassette and derailler, Raceface 30t NW with the Evolve crankset, nib Sektor R 150mm fork I got for a steal off Pinkbike, Nukeproof Warhead stem and headset, SLX brakes, Sun Ringle Black Flag wheelset, Speccy Ground Control 2.3 up front with a Speccy Purgatory Control in 2.2 out back, KS i190 dropper and either Forte flats or Candy clips depending on what I am riding.

    I recently had the opportunity to swap a 650b fork and rear wheel on it for a day and it fit just fine as long as the rear tire isn't over 2.2. After that you would have clearance issues especially with mud. It rode great and didn't feel like the bottom bracket had been raised too far. The small rollover boost on climbing ledges was noticeable but not huge. The bike felt bigger, but again it wasn't that big of a deal even though the thing is a bit long already with the slack head angle. You could easily throw a 140mm 650b fork on there and have no problems. The frame build is strong enough that the added stress on the headtube area wouldn't matter that much.
    Thanks for the awesome response Mentallo. I've definitely been considering the Blue Pig, even more so now that you've said the frame is 650b compatible. The only real concern I have is if I'm just going to get frustrated or worn out easily pushing a bike of that weight around / riding a bike built for descents on the flat XC terrain.

    I've read that the piglet is similar but built more the XC oriented but still built tough enough to handle the descents and technical stuff. Similar to what the Cotic Soul is to the BFE.

    I'm still fairly new to the MTB world, I should probably go figure out how geometry tweaks affect frame handling.

  4. #4
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    I don't really see your logic here. It sounds like you want a bike that does everything and are willing to compromise a lot on all fronts. Plus, you are on a tight budget. By focusing a little you can maximize your cost to performance. Trust me. I'm a bike nerd and a cheapass.

    First, are you against 29" wheels? There are some pretty nice AM 29er's with stock builds in your price range. I suggest this because they would be nice on the 95% of XC riding you will be doing. You may give up a little flickability and fork travel the few times out to 512, but it's not like any of the frames your looking at are freeride bikes.

    If you want a 650b, buy a 650b specific bike instead of squeezing them on a 26er. 2.2 is a pretty narrow tire for this type of bike.

    With a modest budget, why are you looking at building from scratch with boutique frames? Do you have parts already that you want to use? Buying a complete bike is ALWAYS a better value than buying piece by piece (unless of course you have some parts already or some sort of hookup).

    The other thing I would suggest is looking for a used full suspension AM rig. With 26" wheels on the decline, you can score some great deals on gently used bikes that would fit your requirements perfectly.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by notyal View Post
    The other thing I would suggest is looking for a used full suspension AM rig. With 26" wheels on the decline, you can score some great deals on gently used bikes that would fit your requirements perfectly.

    For example:
    2013 specialized stumpjumper evo

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by notyal View Post
    I don't really see your logic here. It sounds like you want a bike that does everything and are willing to compromise a lot on all fronts. Plus, you are on a tight budget. By focusing a little you can maximize your cost to performance. Trust me. I'm a bike nerd and a cheapass.

    First, are you against 29" wheels? There are some pretty nice AM 29er's with stock builds in your price range. I suggest this because they would be nice on the 95% of XC riding you will be doing. You may give up a little flickability and fork travel the few times out to 512, but it's not like any of the frames your looking at are freeride bikes.

    If you want a 650b, buy a 650b specific bike instead of squeezing them on a 26er. 2.2 is a pretty narrow tire for this type of bike.

    With a modest budget, why are you looking at building from scratch with boutique frames? Do you have parts already that you want to use? Buying a complete bike is ALWAYS a better value than buying piece by piece (unless of course you have some parts already or some sort of hookup).

    The other thing I would suggest is looking for a used full suspension AM rig. With 26" wheels on the decline, you can score some great deals on gently used bikes that would fit your requirements perfectly.
    Quote Originally Posted by notyal View Post
    I'm just looking for a "do it all" style of bike, since I'm a broke college kid and this will be my main bike. I'm new to MTB so I don't know the little nuances of how one frame would handle vs another frame so I was just looking at frames that people had given the thumbs up to and seemed to fit what I was looking to do on two wheels.

    I'm not against 29" but then again I've only ridden a 29"er once for an hour or two so I never felt like I got a true feel for how differently the bike handled versus the 26"er I ride around on normally.

    Interesting, I didn't consider any of the frames I had listed as boutique frames, I usually think of Yeti or Santa Cruz when I think of boutique. But like I said earlier, I was just looking at frames people had reviewed or had positive opinions on, I've never actually ridden any of these frames, in fact my only real frame of reference is the 03 Hardrock I've been riding. I don't have any spare parts lying around, I wanted to build from scratch though just for the experience? I enjoy working with my hands and wrenching.

    I've been debating picking up a used Transition TransAM 26" off of PinkBike because they can be had for a decent price and everyone seems to love them. What full sus bikes would you suggest that I look at? Besides that Stumppy which is a beautiful bike but I'd prefer not to spend 2k on a bike at the moment.

    e: I could probably swing a 2010 Stump Jumper, would you recommend a stummpy that old? One of my main concerns is also buying an "older" ~>5yrs and not being able to find replacement parts if I break something.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by PurelyFictional View Post
    I'll be moving to San Marcos here soon for the last year or so of university so I'll be riding around San Marcos / Austin pretty frequently

    I'll be using the bike mostly for XC 95% of the time but I'd also like to make some trips out to freeride 512 on the weekends.
    What do you guys think would be best for the type of riding I'm looking to do? I'm open to bike suggestions, a bike used is something I'm definitely open to.
    Quote Originally Posted by notyal View Post

    First, are you against 29" wheels? There are some pretty nice AM 29er's with stock builds in your price range. I suggest this because they would be nice on the 95% of XC riding you will be doing. You may give up a little flickability and fork travel the few times out to 512, but it's not like any of the frames your looking at are freeride bikes.

    With a modest budget, why are you looking at building from scratch with boutique frames? Do you have parts already that you want to use? Buying a complete bike is ALWAYS a better value than buying piece by piece (unless of course you have some parts already or some sort of hookup).

    The other thing I would suggest is looking for a used full suspension AM rig.
    1st question is how much do you weigh? If you are under 190lb, you can get away with a lighter bike on rough terrian and occasional freeride.

    2nd, notyal is correct. if your over 5'5", you should seriously consider a 29er according to what you've mentioned above. Those bigger wheels roll so much easier over the chunk.

    Local winners...

    2010 Niner RIP9 Dual-Suspension! Good Condition *Upgrades*
    GIANT/TRANCE-O Bike 2012---MED.29er-)O
    New 2013 Giant Anthem X 29er 4

    I ride an Anthem x 29 w/ 120mm fork and I charge it all.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by dimitrin View Post
    1st question is how much do you weigh? If you are under 190lb, you can get away with a lighter bike on rough terrian and occasional freeride.

    2nd, notyal is correct. if your over 5'5", you should seriously consider a 29er according to what you've mentioned above. Those bigger wheels roll so much easier over the chunk.

    Local winners...

    2010 Niner RIP9 Dual-Suspension! Good Condition *Upgrades*
    GIANT/TRANCE-O Bike 2012---MED.29er-)O
    New 2013 Giant Anthem X 29er 4

    I ride an Anthem x 29 w/ 120mm fork and I charge it all.
    I'm 6'3" roughly 165-180lbs it's been a while since I've weighed myself. I'll consider looking into 29"s then I figured 650b would split the difference though and retain some of the roll over and flickability and leave me with a nice middle ground.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by PurelyFictional View Post
    I'm just looking for a "do it all" style of bike, since I'm a broke college kid and this will be my main bike. I'm new to MTB so I don't know the little nuances of how one frame would handle vs another frame so I was just looking at frames that people had given the thumbs up to and seemed to fit what I was looking to do on two wheels.

    I'm not against 29" but then again I've only ridden a 29"er once for an hour or two so I never felt like I got a true feel for how differently the bike handled versus the 26"er I ride around on normally.

    Interesting, I didn't consider any of the frames I had listed as boutique frames, I usually think of Yeti or Santa Cruz when I think of boutique. But like I said earlier, I was just looking at frames people had reviewed or had positive opinions on, I've never actually ridden any of these frames, in fact my only real frame of reference is the 03 Hardrock I've been riding. I don't have any spare parts lying around, I wanted to build from scratch though just for the experience? I enjoy working with my hands and wrenching.

    I've been debating picking up a used Transition TransAM 26" off of PinkBike because they can be had for a decent price and everyone seems to love them. What full sus bikes would you suggest that I look at? Besides that Stumppy which is a beautiful bike but I'd prefer not to spend 2k on a bike at the moment.

    e: I could probably swing a 2010 Stump Jumper, would you recommend a stummpy that old? One of my main concerns is also buying an "older" ~>5yrs and not being able to find replacement parts if I break something.
    I've gotta be brutally honest with you. Given your experience level, it feels like you are over reaching. Building a bike piece by piece from scratch is a cool experience, but not on a tight budget. Don't forget to budget in at least a few hundred bucks for special tools, a workstand, and last minute trips to the bike shop for overlooked or incorrect parts and service you can't figure out. It's definitely a rewarding experience to work on your own bike, but if you find a nice (and complete) used bike, there will be plenty to wrench on. Plus, you'll have a bike you can actually ride immediately.

    The best bike you can ever buy is the one you will ride the most. The AM hardtail segment is a pretty small niche because this style of riding does not appeal to the average rider. That's not to say it wouldn't be the right style of bike for you, just something to consider. Supply and demand. I posted that Stumpy as an example of what kind of deals you can get on 26" bikes right now. That one retailed for $3300 last year, and it's been sitting on CL for weeks at $2k. Also, that was the EVO model which is a little burlier. If you can get a great deal on a good condition 2010, go for it, ride it for a couple of years, then trade up. Finding parts won't be much of an issue, but you're right to be scared of anything too much older. There are too many full suspension models to list. Coming from an 03 Hardrock, any one of them will feel like a Ferrari.

    All that said, if I had to only have one bike and had a ~$1500 budget, I too would be looking at a newish AM hardtail (but in 29" form).

  10. #10
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    You may be better off buying a nice used bike for that price.

  11. #11
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    Look for a good 100-120-140mm full suspension bike. StumpJumper FSR, Trek Fuel or similar.

  12. #12
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    Have you ridden the trails in San Marcos? I live in San Marcos and while I get to Austin to ride sometimes, the majority of the time I find myself riding Purgatory or Spring Lake in San Marcos due to time constraints. I have found myself wanting something like a ragley blue pig or some AM hardtail just for fun, but I think what the other guys are telling you is correct. Dont try to build on that budget, and I would reccomend full suspension. I started in San Marcos on a hardtail, moved to full suspention and wont go back, for my main bike. However I do see lots of hardtails and they seem to be happy on them. I would reccomend riding the trail if possible before you buy if you havnt seen it.

  13. #13
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    I ride a hardtail in Austin (Canfield Nimble 9) - if you go hardtail then budget for carbon bars and a nice seatpost on a steel frame.

    The Salsa El Mariachi 3 is a nice build for $1600 brand new, it has the AM type geometry, short stays and slack front.

  14. #14
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    How is Spring Lake? I have never been. I ride Purgatory/Prospect parks all the time. Got any more info on Spring Lake? I would like to try a new trail. Thanks

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    @XRaptor, Its quite different than Purgatory. Its not nearly as technically challenging, but it will work your cardio hard, and has some sweet "downhills" Park at the River Center parking lot off of Aquarena, and then the trail begins as a limestone road behind the golf course maintenance shed. Follow the limestone road uphill all the way to the top, then there are a couple different options down. About halfway up there is a trailmap. Its about 5 miles long.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by guggas View Post
    @XRaptor, Its quite different than Purgatory. Its not nearly as technically challenging, but it will work your cardio hard, and has some sweet "downhills" Park at the River Center parking lot off of Aquarena, and then the trail begins as a limestone road behind the golf course maintenance shed. Follow the limestone road uphill all the way to the top, then there are a couple different options down. About halfway up there is a trailmap. Its about 5 miles long.
    Sweet thanks Ill have to check that place out.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by XRaptor View Post
    Sweet thanks Ill have to check that place out.
    I just checked it out yesterday. Way better than what I was expecting! It has some challenging downhills, up hills, single track smooth & some technical areas as well. Definitely a good cardio workout. I got lost but put 5.0 miles on. I only saw one person walking their dog the whole time I was there. This is now, my favorite place so far out of McKinny Falls & Purgatory. It's about 10 min from home. Hit me up if you need someone to go with. I need to learn how to get around it still.

  18. #18
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    What AM Frame for Texas?

    For sure man. I ride it pretty frequently. Next time i go there i'll let you know.

  19. #19
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    Cool! I went again today by myself this time without my wife. I think that I figured out a nice little 5 mile loop. I don't know about you but the hills kill me but I love it. I only came across like 2 walkers. Ok, maybe this isn't my favorite place but it sure is convenient. I didn't have as much fun as I thought I would alone, even though I'm always having to wait for my wife. I'm off work at 4:30pm M-F.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by guggas View Post
    Have you ridden the trails in San Marcos? I live in San Marcos and while I get to Austin to ride sometimes, the majority of the time I find myself riding Purgatory or Spring Lake in San Marcos due to time constraints. I have found myself wanting something like a ragley blue pig or some AM hardtail just for fun, but I think what the other guys are telling you is correct. Dont try to build on that budget, and I would reccomend full suspension. I started in San Marcos on a hardtail, moved to full suspention and wont go back, for my main bike. However I do see lots of hardtails and they seem to be happy on them. I would reccomend riding the trail if possible before you buy if you havnt seen it.
    I haven't actually seen or ridden the trails in San Marcos, I'm moving down there this weekend and I can't wait to ride them. I've just seen photos and they look pretty rocky. If you could tell me more I'd love to hear about them.

    I took everyones advice and went ahead about bought a Stumpjumper off of Pinkbike. I tried to fish a few off of ebay but most of them ended outside of my price range, or I missed the bid entirely. (Missed a 2012 that sold for $1,200, I was angry)

    So this is the SJ I bought, it's a roller which is is fine for me because it'll allow me to put the parts on the bike that I want to. Plus it'll stay inside my price range. Can't wait to build this thing up and get it out on the trail.

    2010 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Expert For Sale

  21. #21
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    That is a killer buy.
    The brain rear shocks are due for a rebuild.
    There are good shops in San Antonio and Austin that could do it cheaper than shipping to Spec. If you need a ref for a place to get replacement specialized parts let me know.

    Also, that saint crank is 2x heavier than you need and the weight will be noticed when going uphill.
    Can you get the original crankset from the seller too?

  22. #22
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    I'll second both of Trail_Blazers points. That's a freaking great deal. The brain rear shock is great while I found the brain fork to be harsh in the small hits but fine in the larger ones. Bring it into Cycle Progression on south Lamar in Austin and have Emil service it and you will be golden.

    That crank set is burly as ****, but you pay for it in weight. Raceface has a ton of offerings that won't kill your budget but are quality enough that you won't have to worry about them. I like the Evolve line personally.

  23. #23
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    Cool man. I might take you up on your offer. I am only available to ride the weekdays so maybe some time after your out of work.

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    Trans AM all day. I have one and have no problems anywhere I take it. Emma Long, Leon Creek Green belt, Tyler State Park, Mcallister Park, Walnut Creek, it handles all. Would a FS make you faster, yes but a HT will improve your skills and handling, plus they are a challenge and a complete blast to ride because of that. Let the neysayers pump up FS all day long (i have two of them) but my most fun bike to ride is a HT. Ride a HT for a month and then switch over to a FS, tell me of you dont see improvements on your handling skills, then switch back to a HT and see how loose youve become because you have the suspension save your a$$. If you want a HT get one. If you have the money build up a Trans AM, mine is built up at 26 lbs (steel HT too), for a cheaper build try a Ragley, On One, or my second choice a Cotic BFE.

  25. #25
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    I have had the opposite experiance. The longer I ride a HT the worse my FS skills get. FS bikes use many techniques impossible or irrelivant to a HT.

    Practice practice practice the tool you use to get better at that tool.

    Police men dont practice with a rifle to get better at shooting with a pistol.
    They use the pistol over and over at every practice.
    The more you ride your bike the more comfortable and confident you will get.
    Using a different bike will likely slow that momentum.


    If your skills are lacking, then train and learn more from other riders. But focus on the skills which are relivant to your bike and trails and personal goals / riding style.

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