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  1. #1
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    Anyone ridden a Bandit 29 and an SB95 or RIP9?

    I've demoed both the SB95 and the RIP9 and loved them both, but I'm really intrigued by the Bandit 29, and I'm wondering how it compares when pedaling XC or uphill when compared to these two bikes. I'm moving from a Yeti 575, and while I love it, I need a bike that climbs better for the type of riding I do (including some 50+ mile 'races'), but is still a fun trail bike for the rest of the year.

    I'm a little concerned that the Bandit 29 might be just a bigger wheel version of what I'm currently on, so I'm wondering if anyone has ridden all 3, or the Transition and one of the others (which I felt climbed incredibly well) and can compare the climbing ability. I rode a Trek Rumblefish, which has a suspension design that looks eerily similar to that on the Bandit 29, and while I felt it pedaled well, it wasn't *as* great as the other two.

    The Bandit is right at what I'd like to spend while still having the key things I want (Fox 34 Kashima, 12mm rear axle... um... 29 inch wheels), but maybe it's worth spending the extra $300 to $700 (writing that makes me sweat) for the SB95 or RIP9.

    It sounds like Road 34 might have been getting a demo Bandit 29... I'll call them, but if I sell my bike this weekend, which it sounds like I might have done, then I'll want to move pretty fast to replace it.

  2. #2
    North Van/Whistler
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    I rode a SB95 but not a RIP 9 and am the reviewer who wrote about the B29 in the First Looks article. To give me a chance of giving you any semblance of intelligent feedback you need to give me some (any?) background about you or your riding preferences
    Locals' Guide to North Shore Rides http://mtbtrails.ca/

  3. #3
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    Wyoming/Colorado rocky or loose technical single track is most of what I do... I want a bike that goes downhill well, but realize that most of the time spent on the bike is spent climbing. I do a couple big races each year, like the Laramie Enduro (72 miles of mostly two track or crappy gravel road interspersed with sections of single track) and the Dakota Five O (50 miles of fairly flowy dirt single track). I probably ride on average 80 - 100 miles a week during the summer. I am looking for something that can handle some drops and descend well (we shuttle some mostly downhill stuff a lot in the fall) and be an all around sort of bike, but that also is a bit less painful to pedal uphill for the 9000ft of climbing in the Enduro. I feel like too much of my energy goes into the suspension on the 575 when I'm climbing. Something that is more 'all day bike' without being too XC... that tell you what you want to know? I'm like 6' 2", 220.

  4. #4
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    Bob, I have ridden the SB95 (pre-production, one ride) and have a couple hundred miles on a B29, that I bought from my LBS in March. Without having substantial time on the SB95 and being biased to the bike that I own and can't get enough of, here is my take (I ride chunky desert trails)...

    These are two very different bikes (virtual pivot vs. single pivot). Lets talk about the Yeti first-

    Climbing: The SB95 climbed (and felt) like a hardtail. That is to say, while climbing, there was little to no pedal-bob and almost no small bump sensitivity. There was also quite a bit more pedal feedback when climbing ledgy sections than I am use to or find tolerable.

    Rolling: In the flats, the bike felt ok. Spry and soaked up trail chatter well once you got off the pedals. But in classic virtual pivot style, anytime you are on the pedals, the rear end locks up and doesn't respond to trail forces very well. The bike's geometry was fairly long, which would feel good on long days in the saddle. Most of my rides are 15 miles or less so the stretched out nature of the bike just made it feel more like business time than recess.

    Gravity: On the descents, the SB95 performed well as long as I didn't push it too hard, take the bigger alternate lines, ask too much of it. For any descent size impact, the SB would blow through it's travel and bottom out. I tried to add more air pressure to combat this problem but then my small bump sensitivity was even worse. I am sure that with time I could have fine tuned the shock to produce a ride that is more suiting to my style, but with the short amount of time I had with the ride I wasn't impressed.

    Overall: I would describe the SB95 as: big, harsh yet efficient climber, long cockpit, good bike for those that value climbing efficiency over suspension control.

    As for the Transition, like I prefaced I own a Bandit 29 and have been riding it 3+ times a week since early March, and I love it.

    Climbing: The Bandit is an efficient yet forgiving climber with very little pedal feedback. With even the slightest amount of compression dampening on the rear (PP-1) the bike barely bobs while remaining active enough to soak up all of the trail. Crank the propedal up to 3 and the bike climbs nearly as well as the SB95 and still maintains sensitivity to all bumps. In any shock setting the B29 feels softer than the SB but doesn't necessarily feel slower. Out here, the climbs are very rocky and have lots of tricky rough spots and ledges where a more compliant rear end and less pedal feedback really helps to keep the bike tractoring forwards.

    Rolling: In rolling terrain, the Bandit cruises. The geometry on the bike is setup to feel tight and nimble which results in me catching "cheap air" at all opportunities. As the speeds increase and the hits become faster and more frequent, the Bandit's suspension continues to respond in classic well designed single pivot style, plush and responsive. Unlike a virtual pivot bike, the Bandit continues to soak up trail chatter even while under pedal power.

    Gravity: This is where the Bandit comes into it's own. Point the B29 downhill and you will be blown away by it's capabilities. It feels more like a 7" FR bike than a 5" trail bike. The geometry allows for effortless manuals and balance changes to get you through those steep, rough sections like they are not even there. The spring rate ramps up nicely at the end of the stroke allowing the bike to use 95% or so of it's travel while still leaving that little bit in reserve for the oops moments and the hucks. The BB height is pretty low which results in great cornering manners and a low center of gravity but also makes the pedals vulnerable for unplanned encounters with rocks.

    To sum it all up, the B29 is encouraging, forgiving, plush, nimble, confident, and biased to descending. The SB95 is harsh, long, biased to climbing and all day epics. That is not to say that the Bandit can't be enjoyable on all day epics. I am 48 hours away from taking my Bandit on the Kokopelli trail (145 miles Loma to Moab) and I don't think it will give me any troubles, but we shall see!

    BTW, If you want to demo a Bandit 29, Grassroots Cycles in Grand Junction, CO has a medium and a large for demo. I'm pretty sure the Yeti and Niner dealers in town have demos of the other bike you are considering as well.

    Hope my take on the bikes helps!

  5. #5
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    Great reply, thanks a bunch!

    I've actually already demoed the SB95 and the Niner... this is the one I haven't ridden. GJ is a haul for me, but I think Road 34 is supposed to get one in that I could demo. Unfortunately, it looks like the buyer I had lined up for my 575 has fallen through, so I guess I have some time to try the Transition out if I want to. I wish the component group was slightly better, but that is made up for it seems by the quality of the suspension components.

    My impression of the SB95 in the climbs was the same as yours - almost a hardtail... which was nice a lot of the time. The Niner was a little bit softer, but still very easy to pedal... this was the bike I was leaning towards.

    Sounds like the B29 is worth a ride, either way.

  6. #6
    North Van/Whistler
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    wow - Karate what a detailed reply. Bob - I'll put up my impressions in a bit. Just rushing something out the door but thx for more context


    OK here goes. I've had 25+ rides on the B29. One ride on one trail (Lions Loop) with the Yeti so it was just a taster. SB95 was more like a 5k build with particularly light wheels. B29 is the stock version for the most part

    For the most part I echo what KM said.

    Uphill the SB95 felt better and I could hang in a taller gear. The B29 felt sluggish in comparison. I'd attribute a lot of this to having the heavy (but tough) B29 boat-anchor'ish wheels

    Downhill I couldn't say it was that pronounced a difference as KM felt between SB95 and B29. B29 felt more confident but also I was used to the bike. SB95 felt more like I was bounced around. B29 felt more like it absorbed chop.

    Totally agree that B29 is a cheap air machine. I can get air off pebbles or ledges - eg Porc Rim where every 2' ledge is an occassion to boost.

    One note re climbing rocky ledges. The B29 sinks into its travel when you do the standard trials style approach rocky ledge Fruita/Moab climbing move. It's good because an experienced more advanced rider can use that "sinking" to time the pedal stroke to use the sinking (gets a bit more travel as rear wheel plants into ground and increases traction for split second) and consequent rebound (rear wheel lifts and extends bike and helps get a bit higher above ground) to almost hop onto ledges and keep traction. I say "advanced rider" because someone who isn't used to making this kind of mood is going to, IMO, find the B29 to be a struggle to climb tech trails and will bash their BB.

    The SB95 didn't do this. It just rides high in its travel. Very DW-link'ish like. You hop on to a ledge and it stays planted high. Only bigger hits appear to make it react with all travel. So I have to agree that its a harsher ride than the B29 - and that wasn't because of setup (both bikes at about 25% sag for Fruita/Moab riding)

    I'm mulling over the snippet of what I said in the rocky ledge critique. It might offend some people because many riders find "low" BB's to be a problem for tech terrain. My opinion is that working on technical skills will allow people to ride low BB bikes and avoid many of the pedal strike problems ---- but this might rub a few feathers the wrong way. I'd be interested to hear what anyone and karatemonkey thinks

    Basically I'm guessing that the SB95 might be more what you want.

    But like I said I'm going to throw a lighter wheelset on the B29 and I bet that will change the way it climbs
    Last edited by LeeL; 05-15-2012 at 01:30 PM.
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  7. #7
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    Ya, what Lee said! I am also throwing on a light wheelset and expect the bike to liven up substantially. The stock wheelset weighs 2300g+ and the wheelset I'm currently building should come out around 1600g (carbon rims ). That'll shave over a pound and a half off the rotating weight of the bike!

    The drivetrain on the Bandit is certainly middle of the road. Not the sexiest but it hasn't given me any fuss. The new Elixrs are a big improvement over previous years offerings (no need to bleed, yet). I still prefer the feel of Shimano brakes though. The chain is sh*t (A non-master link exploded on me on the second ride). Replaced it with a Sram and haven't had any issues. The saddle is sh*t too. Replaced it with a WTB Volt and my taint has been resting happy ever since.

    All that said, bike for your dollar I don't think you can do much better than the Bandit. Hell, retail costs on the frame, fork, and shock separately will get you to within $500 of the complete bike cost. And the component choice is solid. Not the lightest, but solid.

    In response to Lee's comment on ledgy climbing action, his observation is accurate. It's about personal preference there, IMO. The Bandit rides deeper in it's travel and is more sensitive to rider and trail inputs than the SB95. Whether that is a plus or minus is up to you.

    Would be nice to hear someone's input on the RIP compared to the Bandit!

  8. #8
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    Good impressions all around... I get the feeling that the Bandit might ride very similarly to my 575 in terms of climbing... better, I'm sure because of the bigger wheels, but maybe with more give than I'm after. There is little point in me moving to a similar bike to what I have, even if it's better... it's a lot of money for a similar experience when my main goal is to get something that climbs like a goat. When I rode the SB95 I cleaned sections I've never made it through before. I didn't get on anything nearly as technical on the RIP, but the climbs I did felt great compared to the 575.

    I certainly felt that the RIP was a bit softer on the back end than the SB95 (I wrote a novel about it here: Demo Review: Yeti SB95 vs. Niner RIP9 (Anthem X 29/Transition 29 footnote)), and I think might be the 'best' fit for the type of riding I want to do after more reflection... it's also going to cost me another $700ish to get on one, though still ~$300 less than an XT build SB95 (which is why I've been considering the Enduro build).

    Interesting comments about the wheelset. I'm a bit concerned about the wheelset on the SB95. It seems like the weak point of the setup. If I end up getting a bike with a lower component set (SB95 or B29) and then turn around and buy a wheelset, I'm not really saving any money vs. the RIP, so I'd just go that route (the one I'm looking at has a Stan's Flow set).

    I guess I'll just see if I can demo a B29 and see for myself. It sounds like a great bike for what I like for everything except the climbs, where it's a bit of a question mark.

    I really appreciate the thoughtful comments.

  9. #9
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    Called Road 34 in Fort Collins today about availability on the B29, and they told me that they don't have one yet, but are going to get *one* in a few weeks which was supposed to be their demo bike, but now they are just going to sell it because they were told they can't get any more... so apparently this is a hot item.

    Anyone know if this is widespread? Am I going to be able to even *find* one of these bikes?

  10. #10
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    Called Red Stone... doesn't sound promising, but he's checking.

  11. #11
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    It's a pretty hot bike from what I understand Bob.
    Locals' Guide to North Shore Rides http://mtbtrails.ca/

  12. #12
    Back of the pack fat guy
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    Quote Originally Posted by LookerBob View Post
    Anyone know if this is widespread? Am I going to be able to even *find* one of these bikes?
    Per my own telephone conversation with a guy at Transition on Tuesday, it sounds like the B29 is just about sold out for the season. They referred me to The Path (a shop in Tustin, CA), who had one XL left (which I bought.)

  13. #13
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    This might make my decision for me, I guess.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by LookerBob View Post
    Called Road 34 in Fort Collins today about availability on the B29, and they told me that they don't have one yet, but are going to get *one* in a few weeks which was supposed to be their demo bike, but now they are just going to sell it because they were told they can't get any more... so apparently this is a hot item.

    Anyone know if this is widespread? Am I going to be able to even *find* one of these bikes?
    As of a couple of weeks ago Transition was sold out for the 2012 year. As of a week ago one shop I know of a had a very few medium frames left.

    If you do go the RIP route check out the machining of the headset bores in the headtube very carefully before building it. I had a WFO frame that was way wrong in this department and I was contacted by a RIP frame buyer, who had read my description of the WFO HT problem here on MTBR, & he had a very similar issue. Since this was a good while after I returned my WFO, I feel it is reasonable to surmise that Niner did not take the matter seriously and properly check out any other possibly defective frames.

    Niner did take the frame back in the end but not before making a number of very un-businesslike statements to me.

    OTOH: my Bandit Two9 was the best constructed & finished frame that I have seen. That and any interaction that I have had with Transition has been positive & very helpful. Great bunch of guys.
    Abandoned the 26" wheel in May '03

  15. #15
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    welp... might be an SB95 in my future, I guess. (hope) Bummed I won't get a chance to check out the Transition though.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by LookerBob View Post
    welp... might be an SB95 in my future, I guess. (hope) Bummed I won't get a chance to check out the Transition though.
    It has been a long time coming, but the Banshee Prime might be very much like you are looking for also. The folks riding the proto's are totally smitten. Not sure when the production frames will be released but it should be a lot sooner than the 2013 Bandit Two9.
    Last edited by 29erchico; 05-17-2012 at 11:35 PM.
    Abandoned the 26" wheel in May '03

  17. #17
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    Current bike might be sold today... Don't think I will wait long.

  18. #18
    Bandit 29 FTW!!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by 29erchico View Post
    As of a couple of weeks ago Transition was sold out for the 2012 year. As of a week ago one shop I know of a had a very few medium frames left.

    If you do go the RIP route check out the machining of the headset bores in the headtube very carefully before building it. I had a WFO frame that was way wrong in this department and I was contacted by a RIP frame buyer, who had read my description of the WFO HT problem here on MTBR, & he had a very similar issue. Since this was a good while after I returned my WFO, I feel it is reasonable to surmise that Niner did not take the matter seriously and properly check out any other possibly defective frames.

    Niner did take the frame back in the end but not before making a number of very un-businesslike statements to me.

    OTOH: my Bandit Two9 was the best constructed & finished frame that I have seen. That and any interaction that I have had with Transition has been positive & very helpful. Great bunch of guys.
    Nooooooooooooooo.................!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!

    I don't foresee any coming on the used market anytime soon...Especially here in my neck of the woods.
    Let's make like a Bike and get the Huck outta here...

  19. #19
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    Yeah, I guess I should add that Red Stone said they had a medium frame, if someone is looking.

  20. #20
    Bandit 29 FTW!!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by LookerBob View Post
    Yeah, I guess I should add that Red Stone said they had a medium frame, if someone is looking.
    Is that an online store or website?
    Let's make like a Bike and get the Huck outta here...

  21. #21
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    They have a website, but you would need to call them:

    Redstone Cyclery :: Lyons, CO

  22. #22
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    I just snagged the only second-hand B29 I've ever come across (on pinkbike). Arrived a few days ago and first ride was great - a couple of minor tweaks (cut bars down from 780 to 730, moved headset spacers and changed seat) and I can't wait to shred this weekend.

    For what it's worth to the comparison in this thread, I just came off a Norco Shinobi. I really liked that bike and was prepared to drop some $ into upgrades (wheelset, crankset) but had trouble getting the suspension dialled. Found the deal on the B29 and couldn't pass it up. The first thing I noticed on the Bandit was the (significantly) shorter top-tube - this will certainly take some getting used to, as I enjoyed the long & low geo of the Shinobi. That said, the Bandit is definitely more flickable - easier to loft the front wheel, boost off bumps/lips and bunny hop...probably has a lot to do with the shortened wheelbase.
    ride, eat, sleep, repeat

  23. #23
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    Found a Santa Cruz Tallboy LT in the area that I might go check out this evening. The price point is more in the zone of the Transition for an SLX/XT hybrid build. The Yeti/Niner prices are making me sweat. Dunno if any of you guys have been on that bike?

  24. #24
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    Just to be clear... Medium are not sold out. Only the L and the XL... see our other post in this thread with links to a few shops that could be able to help you.

    Cheers!

  25. #25
    Bandit 29 FTW!!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Transition Bikes View Post
    Just to be clear... Medium are not sold out. Only the L and the XL... see our other post in this thread with links to a few shops that could be able to help you.

    Cheers!
    I must be missing something...I don't see any other posts from you in this thread.

    Can I go to your website to see where I may be able to pick up a frame online? I'm looking for a Bandit 29 in Pewter (Medium)
    Let's make like a Bike and get the Huck outta here...

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