I am doing the Big Mountain Enduro series this year and a new bike is needed. My old Giant AC1 has been an awesome bike for 10 years, but just isn't going to cut it.
I test rode an 18.5" 2012 Slash 7 and it felt, if anything, too short. The Slash comes in 15.5, 17.5, 18.5, 19.5 and 21.5.
I am 5'9" with a long torso. You would think the 18.5 would be right, but the 18.5 '12 Slash 7 seemed short in the front, and I found a local dealer with killer deals on '12 Slash 8 in 17.5 and 19.5.
I knew if the 18.5 felt short, the 17.5 wouldn't hack it. I decided to try the 19.5. Guess what? It felt perfect. Here is the weirdness. I tend to run my AM-type bikes with the handlebars just slightly lower than the saddle when the saddle is in the climbing position. The 2012 19.5" Slash 8 has a full 30mm (over one inch) of spacers stacked under the stem, and even at that, the handlebars are lower than the saddle when I am in the climbing position with the Reverb fully extended. Basically, the saddle position is perfect for me for climbing with the Reverb fully extended when it is inserted almost as far as it can go and the bar location is exactly where I want it as far as height.
So I went with the 19.5. If you are 5'9" with a long torso, the 19.5 works great. If you look at the specs on the bike, the front reach of the 19.5 is only 1.5cm longer than the 18.5 anyway, and the standover is identical. I like the longer reach and wheelbase. The only issue you will have is that the Reverb only goes down so far. I have a 30" inseam, and any shorter and you would have an issue with the Reverb unless you ran it sagged from full extension. I guess theoretically that is OK to do though. If this was an issue, you might be able to find a saddle with a lower height from rail to top.
If you like your bars high you might have to swap in bars with more rise on a Slash. They just seem kind of low for an enduro style bike.
As for the '12 vs. '13, I know the argument is that the Fox 34 on the '13 is lighter, and is burly enough, but it also goes to the 15mm axle instead of the 20mm. Seems like a bit of a downgrade to me, but another of my considerations was that I already have a 20mm front wheel that I can use as a spare on the '12 model. The '12 was $1100 less than the '13, so I'll gladly carry an extra 8 ounces or whatever the new fork saves over the 36.
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