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  1. #1
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    New question here. HT $1500-$1800 suggestions ladies?? Need help deciding!!

    Hey all,

    I've recently sold my 26" FS AM bike and i'm wishing to upgrade back to a HT within a price range of $1500-$1800. I'm a 5'6" 110 lbs female and i've been tossing around a 35lb bike for the past 4 years so I'm ready to cut some weight. I also want to venture into the 27.5 or 29 sector but there are too many options! I've heard great opinions from guys but I need some advice from females. I have a few models in mind I've been able to test out below that I like-- Feel free to shoot some ideas my way! Here are the two I have in mind.

    Giant XTC 27.5 (2)

    XtC 27.5 2 (2014) - Bikes | Giant Bicycles | United States

    Felt Nine50 (LBS is cutting me a deal on a new wheel/tire set to cut the weight so upgrade is in the bag)

    Nine 50 - Felt Bicycles

    Any feedback is greatly appreciated !!

  2. #2
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    I think if I was looking at a hardtail, I would be looking at steel, carbon, or ti. Aluminum might be a bit harsh for trail riding. Unfortunately, it doesn't help your wheel size choice.

    Not clear if you mean the just the frame or the entire bike, but these are what I was looking at for hardtails. My currrent hardtail is a Yeti DJ, so probably not what you're looking for, although I have seen some insane people ride a DJ on the trails.

    Personally, I'm not a fan of Giant. I would definitely test ride the Felt though. Take a look at their manufacturer forums here: see how happy people are with their CS (every frame maker has breaks, it's just a matter of how they treat their customers) and decide if you want to pursue. Your LBS also sounds supportive, which is also good.

    What I would be looking at it the AM/slacker ones. If I'm correct, they all have various wheel size options.
    * On-One 456 (steel and ti, steel is well within your price range):Bikes - As Seen On TV
    * Chromag has a few (Frames Overview | Frames | Products)
    * Dartmoor Hornet looks like a lot of bang for the buck (Hornet | D A R T M O O R)
    * Yeti has the ARC Carbon: 29 wheel size on m-xl sizes, 27.5 on xs-s sizes

    If you wanna go the custom route, there are a couple of custom makers. Rock Lobster makes some great looking hardtails in at least steel, not sure how the cost is. My dream hardtail though would be a Moots, but that's out of both mine and your price range (the frame alone is something like $3k). If Ibis still made the Tranny, that would also be in my list.

    Full disclosure: I tend to look at the smaller manufacturers so they tend to be a little higher prices sometimes, but not always. The other advantage with a hardtail is it's a lot easier to find some custom maker options.
    MTB4Her.com: mountain bike site for women, by women

  3. #3
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    Thanks Stripes! One thing I forgot to mention is I will be riding some XC trails with rock gardens but no major drops. A lot of folks ride aluminum on the trails I hit so I'm certain I'll be fine. I was looking into carbon frames but most upgrades put me at about $1000 over. The LBS said the FELT 50nine I was looking at would be great for our trails but I'm unfamiliar with FELT and I haven't had much experience with them in the past. I will check out their forum and see their reviews and look around for smaller manufacturers. Thanks!

  4. #4
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    Any ladies have any experience with the Kona Mohala?? Weight/ geometry options? I have a LBS that carries Kona as well but they would have to order one to get my hands on it.

  5. #5
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    You can't go wrong with a Salsa El Mariachi. Steel, well spec'd, and rides like a dream.

  6. #6
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    I've been a Giant rider for almost the whole time I've been in mountain biking and they do well, but the XTC is a very nimble ride almost to the point of being nervous. Sometime back I wanted to try the aluminum XTC hard tail to upgrade from my vintage Sedona ATX and it was good at some things but the weight distribution was good for climbing and very endo-prone in the rough. Tried that and a few others at the time and decided to keep my old gal .

    Salsa's steel offerings would be my other choice. Good company and good product. Plus, with steel it can always be fixed or changed. That's how my 93 Sedona has a disc tab and a new seat stay following a bad frame bending wreck
    '93 Giant Sedona ATX custom
    '93 Giant Sedona AtX aero-edition
    '73 Schwinn Suburban
    '95 Fuji Suncrest

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by tothepeak View Post
    You can't go wrong with a Salsa El Mariachi. Steel, well spec'd, and rides like a dream.
    Thanks for the info Tothepeak!! One of our LBS carries Salsa but I have not looked at their line. The El Mariachi 3 is in my price range and I can update components as more money comes in. Are you on a El Mariachi now? If so, what terrain are you riding? I'm on a mixture of packed berms, frequent rock gardens but no real drops. Hella climbs and fire roads though.

    Quote Originally Posted by supersedona View Post
    I've been a Giant rider for almost the whole time I've been in mountain biking and they do well, but the XTC is a very nimble ride almost to the point of being nervous. Sometime back I wanted to try the aluminum XTC hard tail to upgrade from my vintage Sedona ATX and it was good at some things but the weight distribution was good for climbing and very endo-prone in the rough. Tried that and a few others at the time and decided to keep my old gal .

    Salsa's steel offerings would be my other choice. Good company and good product. Plus, with steel it can always be fixed or changed. That's how my 93 Sedona has a disc tab and a new seat stay following a bad frame bending wreck
    I started with Giants as well-- My first trail bike was a Giant Boulder-- I cracked a poorly built shifter but after a repair the bike is still running like a dream for my sister.

    That's what I was worried about with the XTC. I will come across rock gardens frequently so I don't want to give up handling just to climb faster but I guess anything is better than the fattie I was on earlier. I was interested in the Giant Lust to cushion some of the nervous handling of a lighter frame but that is about $700 out of my price range.

    Two votes for Salsa-- guess I should go give it a look next week! Thank you for your input!!

  8. #8
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    Yep, I am currently riding an El Mariachi! I actually have the Ti version from last year, but I wouldn't mind getting another one in steel! I love the geometry of the bike, and honestly there isn't anything I won't ride on it. I'm in CO, so we have a good mixture of pretty much all types of terrain/trails. I do a LOT of long fireroad climbing, and races like Leadville... but I also don't hesitate to take this bike on all of the rocky/steep/narrow technical trails around here. In fact, I recently bought a full suspension AM bike, and never ride it...the Salsa just takes everything I throw at it, I don't feel like I'll ever need another bike!
    Plus, Salsa is just a sweet company...they are all about adventure by bike, and it shows in their products

  9. #9
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    I am 5'5, and love my carbon On-One Lurcher 29'er HT. I put a ton of miles on it, even won a super D race on it once. The geometry is really really fun - it's laterally stiff with tapered head tube and short chainstays, which means it's pretty playful for a 29'er. I also ride it on the road - that's how versatile it is. It is on sale as a complete bike from On-One for $1400:

    On-One Lurcher 29er X9 Carbon Mountain Bike / 19.5 inch / Matt Black

    Edit: oops sorry - that link is not very helpful! didn't notice the "19.5" inch, plus the "out of stock". Woops. But here is some more reading material. It looks like you'd have to do what I did and order the frame and select the components yourself, which is a very educational endeavor - highly recommended at some point in your cycling career.

    Project 1.2 Review: On-One?s convention-challenging $800 Lurcher carbon 29er frame
    Never use your face as a brake pad.
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  10. #10
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    I was interested in a carbon HT and that is a nice bike!! Too bad it is not sold with a kit-- i'm not up for building my bike right now-- Thanks for the suggestion!

    Anyone got their hands on a new Alum 27.5 lust? I noticed that in a bike shop in NC but they only had size XS. Very lightweight bike for FS!

  11. #11
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    Not a lady here but.....my wife and I just went through a couple weeks of shopping at the LBSs. Here is what we found:

    Pretty low inventory of 27.5s and everybody pushing their stock of 29ers. Personally we both felt like we were a bit small for 29er geometry but that certainly didn't stop the shops of trying to sell what they had. My wife is 5'6" and I am 5'8" ( ok maybe really 5'7.5" because it does really matter with a 29er) It was pretty much impossible to find a 29er with a decent stand over height. ( I want a minimum of 2" on a MTB with my feet flat, can't believe the smoke shops will blow to sell a bike...) With a 29er you really need to try the specific bike. I think you will be hard pressed to find one that fits well. You really don't want your BB dragging on the ground to make the stand over thing work.

    My wife ended up buying a 2014 Kona Cinder Cone 27.5. Seemed like a great bike for her. She preferred the larger wheels and the geometry of the bike was a good fit for her 5"6" body ( she got the 15" frame.) MSRP bike is $1199, a bit cheaper than you mentioned but it seems like pretty good value. Weight was 28lbs on the dot if I remember correctly. ( XC 30 air fork in front with rebound)

    I got a good deal on a last years Marin Bobcat 29er so I got it just to try out. ( I have a soft spot for Marin..always have...) Super cheap bike that I picked up just to see if I could get along with the larger geometry. The 15" frame is still marginal for me (it does have 13" BB clearance...) It is a lot of fun to ride but the stand over is marginal. Top tube is perfect for me. Jury is still out....

    In summary I guess I am just trying to make two points.

    1.) 29ers are big bikes, so you may want to rent one for a while and see if the size works for you. You also will have to try the specific bike since you are going to be borderline for fit given your height IMHO.

    2.) Try the Kona Cinder Cone.

    By the way, I tried the Giant. Fine bike but I just am not a fan of Giant for some reason. Also tried a Felt 29er, forget which model ( maybe nine 60). This one was clearly too big for us. Pretty sure it was the 16" frame. Passed on the Felt 7 60 because the Kona seemed a better value.
    Last edited by Semitone; 01-09-2014 at 09:23 PM.

  12. #12
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    How tall are you? I ask because if you are around 5'9" or more, just forget the 27.5 and go 29. If however this does not describe you the the 27.5 may be a good fit.

    My wife decided she needed a new bike after I bought my Trance because we like riding together sometimes (well we ALWAYS like it, just don't always DO it lol) and her 20 year old Rincon just wasn't cutting it anymore. She was adamant about not wanting FS, so we started looking at hardtails. Finally settled on a Tempt 5, as she is not at the level to really need more bike than that build level, and I got a killer deal from my LBS, and was more into that frame color, components are easily upgraded in the future. She is IN LOVE with the thing, and asks nearly daily to go for a ride. It also has improved her skills drastically in the few months shes been on it. With your budget the 0 model fills the bill perfectly. I find the frame geometry well thought out and stable, yet very lively and fun when you want it to be, it just does as its told without putting up a fight. She isn't even ready to throw any upgrades on there yet, even though I am chomping at the bit to at least do a fork swap and go hydro on the brakes.

    So my vote is check out a Tempt!

  13. #13
    I like mtn biking, too
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    HT $1500-$1800 suggestions ladies?? Need help deciding!!

    Yeah, good point about the 29er sizing. After checking the geometry specs of many 29er frames, I did end up crossing half of them off of my list, which I should share here if i can find it. But that still left some nice choices for a 29er for me. I have a 30" inseam, 5'5". I feel great on the 16" frame on the on-one.

    29ers do put you higher up off the ground, which took getting used to. But boy is it easier to get up and over big log piles! Anyway, yes there is stuff that's good to know before commiting to a 29er as a shorty.
    Never use your face as a brake pad.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Semitone View Post
    Not a lady here but.....my wife and I just went through a couple weeks of shopping at the LBSs. Here is what we found:

    Pretty low inventory of 27.5s and everybody pushing their stock of 29ers. Personally we both felt like we were a bit small for 29er geometry but that certainly didn't stop the shops of trying to sell what they had. My wife is 5'6" and I am 5'8" ( ok maybe really 5'7.5" because it does really matter with a 29er) It was pretty much impossible to find a 29er with a decent stand over height. ( I want a minimum of 2" on a MTB with my feet flat, can't believe the smoke shops will blow to sell a bike...) With a 29er you really need to try the specific bike. I think you will be hard pressed to find one that fits well. You really don't want your BB dragging on the ground to make the stand over thing work.

    My wife ended up buying a 2014 Kona Cinder Cone 27.5. Seemed like a great bike for her. She preferred the larger wheels and the geometry of the bike was a good fit for her 5"6" body ( she got the 15" frame.) MSRP bike is $1199, a bit cheaper than you mentioned but it seems like pretty good value. Weight was 28lbs on the dot if I remember correctly. ( XC 30 air fork in front with rebound)

    I got a good deal on a last years Marin Bobcat 29er so I got it just to try out. ( I have a soft spot for Marin..always have...) Super cheap bike that I picked up just to see if I could get along with the larger geometry. The 15" frame is still marginal for me (it does have 13" BB clearance...) It is a lot of fun to ride but the stand over is marginal. Top tube is perfect for me. Jury is still out....

    In summary I guess I am just trying to make two points.

    1.) 29ers are big bikes, so you may want to rent one for a while and see if the size works for you. You also will have to try the specific bike since you are going to be borderline for fit given your height IMHO.

    2.) Try the Kona Cinder Cone.

    By the way, I tried the Giant. Fine bike but I just am not a fan of Giant for some reason. Also tried a Felt 29er, forget which model ( maybe nine 60). This one was clearly too big for us. Pretty sure it was the 16" frame. Passed on the Felt 7 60 because the Kona seemed a better value.
    Thanks Semitone-- to be honest, I skimmed right over the Cinder Cone assuming the bike would be cromoly due to the Explosif but Kona switched it up. I like the frame and the extra money leaves room for component upgrades. I'll def be checking this one out tomorrow!

    Quote Originally Posted by musikron View Post
    How tall are you? I ask because if you are around 5'9" or more, just forget the 27.5 and go 29. If however this does not describe you the the 27.5 may be a good fit.

    My wife decided she needed a new bike after I bought my Trance because we like riding together sometimes (well we ALWAYS like it, just don't always DO it lol) and her 20 year old Rincon just wasn't cutting it anymore. She was adamant about not wanting FS, so we started looking at hardtails. Finally settled on a Tempt 5, as she is not at the level to really need more bike than that build level, and I got a killer deal from my LBS, and was more into that frame color, components are easily upgraded in the future. She is IN LOVE with the thing, and asks nearly daily to go for a ride. It also has improved her skills drastically in the few months shes been on it. With your budget the 0 model fills the bill perfectly. I find the frame geometry well thought out and stable, yet very lively and fun when you want it to be, it just does as its told without putting up a fight. She isn't even ready to throw any upgrades on there yet, even though I am chomping at the bit to at least do a fork swap and go hydro on the brakes.

    So my vote is check out a Tempt!
    Hi Musikron,

    I'm 5'6" -- I was able to get my hands on a Tempt and a LBS back home. I agree with your wife, it is a very attractive bike. The geometry wasn't as aggressive as I hoped for. The Obsess would be my vote on Liv/Giant HTs but they only offer the expensive composite frame. I'm glad your wife found a bike she enjoys! If you want to give her the upgrade fever you should slip an upgrade or two when she's not aware then she'll change her mind real quick

  15. #15
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    This choice seems a little expensive. Check the dimensions for the Superfly 9.6 15.5".
    With a Black Friday 15% off and 3% more for cash instead of payment by card it will be a lot closer to your price range. Make it a stock order bike.
    The damping engineered into the carbon frame and lifetime warranty make it an excellent long-term choice. The 435 chainstays and 51mm offset fork make for fun and a little aggressive handling. April is the next 15% off sale days.
    Trek Bicycle


  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by tonicspark View Post


    Hi Musikron,

    If you want to give her the upgrade fever you should slip an upgrade or two when she's not aware then she'll change her mind real quick
    You have read my mind, I am hoping to get her some brakes snuck on there in the next month or so. Though the fork needs it more, it's also MUCH more expensive, and I think having better brakes would give her confidence to go ahead and out ride that fork sooner, i.e. increase her skills.

    Hope you find the bike that's right for you soon!

  17. #17
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    Hey Guys,

    So i went to a couple LBS in the area and checked out the salsa El Mariachi--The only one in stock was too large-- it was a nice/ sturdy bike but not really what I was looking for.

    eb1888, I also looked at the superfly but didn't see any last years models nor did the LBS mention the discount to me I just assumed all the older models were gone-

    And I checked out the Blast (same setup as Cinder-cone but Alum)- liked the geometry but not happy with the amount of money I would be throwing at the upgraded components.

    Another LBS owner mentioned a '13 Cannondale F29 1 that would be reduced to my price range and I went for it. Beautiful, lightweight, bike and it just felt good!! Very excited!! Should be getting it next week! Never had a lefty but always wanted one!!

    Thanks for all the suggestions guys-- It helped me realize pros/cons of each kind and what would work for me. Never been a 29er girl but it's not too late to start!!



    HT 00-00 suggestions ladies?? Need help deciding!!-c_13_3fa291_wht_4.png

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by tonicspark View Post
    eb1888, I also looked at the superfly but didn't see any last years models nor did the LBS mention the discount to me I just assumed all the older models were gone-

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The older carbon frame model is the super stiff version designed without any input from the road bike engineering group. Zero damping and zero value imo.
    Some Trek dealers offered 15% off for Black Friday weekend. Especially larger Platinum dealers. The next scheduled 15% off time is in April in my area(MI). Trek audits the dealers to make sure they don't offer more of a discount on current year bikes at this time of year. But if you know the limits you can go in with a set price you need to be at out the door. Mention the BF discount. You generally will have to deal with a manager level sales person. They can also offer a cash discount and 20%+ off on additional gear and components Trek doesn't control. They can swap out parts for versions you prefer as part of the deal.
    The more you know about what you want the better you can negotiate a good price. I will take a break and say I need to walk around the shop a bit if things aren't going quite right. It gives them a chance to think about losing the sale. I would also tell them you do not want this to be a special order--it can go on their regular order and arrive whenever. Some shops like to avoid discounting on non-stock items. If you prepay with cash, at least a large deposit, they have no extra costs.
    I had a $100 Trek Factory Demo ride coupon and used the BF and 3% cash discount to get under $2k with tax. The bike is coming by February.

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