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  1. #1
    n00b eternal
    Reputation: ezweave's Avatar
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    The $1500 Question

    Here's the TLR -> what's the best race-able bike in the $1500-$2000 range? Some type of Spec Crave, Superfly, Niner, or something a little slack like a Stache?

    And the rest of it...

    Raced XC a wee bit as a teenager (late 90s), got into DH/Freeride, got out of that (money, bones, not as gutsy as I once was). Been racing road pretty seriously for the last three years as well as CX and, as cross season rolls around, I end up riding technical singletrack on my Spec Crux Disc and after a few hours, my beat up hands miss the fun of a good ol' hard tail (I'm always surprised at how much you can ride on a CX bike, as are the freds who I've wheelie dropped past ). The last hard tail I have is a 2008 Specialized built up with a silly 6" travel Marz fork, Singeltrack rims, E-13 bash guide, etc. Basically a tractor of a bike that's no fun when you're used to whipping around on an 18 pound CX bike (or much lighter road bike).

    At any rate, I'm in the mood to race something different and want to do Leadville next year (some of the guys I race with just did it and I have belt buckle envy).

    But I need a bike.

    Kind of thinking of a long term plan: I'd like a bike rather soon-ish that I can start logging miles on. I've looked at the Carve and I can get some pro-deals, but sometimes those things take a minute and I'd like to be on the thing by the end of the month. Knowing how much I use my Quarq (power meter) for road training, I think a $1500 ish bike that I can put only a few upgrades on (say wheels as I can get Enve deals, and a powermeter) this fall and do some racing on in the early season is kind of what I'm after. I can always setup a fancier bike later on for the big races (Breck, Leadville, etc).

    I don't know what to get, though. It's a good time of year to pick up a bike (sales) and as I'm short (5'8" 140-145) I can often find smalls on sale. That said, a buddy of mine says I should get the best Stache I can afford and I admit that I like to do technical riding as much as I like to climb quickly (I cut my teeth on super techy, slow XC trails, many moons ago).

    Now that the novel is ending, anyone have any advice? I'm not a green eared kid, so I don't need to "save money for helmet/etc" (I have closets full of helmets, pads, shoes, pedals.) I just want "bang for my buck". I like clutch derailleurs, lockouts, and minimal drive trains... FWIW. I don't know how much brakes have improved (er I haven't experienced it) as I rode HFX-9s and plenty of BB-7s (in addition to V's way back when), but I am under the impression that things are more refined (though BB-7s are still used, hell I have some on my CX bike).

    Anyway, any advice would be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    I have a few friends riding/racing the Pivot LES and I'm kinda envious because of it's versatility. It's probably not a true xc hardtail in the typical sense but you sure as hell can race it AND (allegedly) fit a 2.4 in the rear. Granted you could probably source a frame only for $1500 but maybe you know someone or ????

    not really answering your question but given your background, this might be worth saving up for?

  3. #3
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    Reputation: limba's Avatar
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    You're a smart, fit, experienced guy that has access to deals so you don't really need our help.

    But since you asked ...

    Spend more money than $2000. You'll buy something cheap, upgrade the hell out of it and then still want something better. Just buy the bike you want right now.

    Get Shimano brakes.

    Blackburn Slick water bottles cages cost $10, weigh 23g, have a lifetime warranty and I've never dropped a bottle.

  4. #4
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    I would find something like a Niner One9 on closeout right now and built up a single speed with Stan's wheels. You can get really great deals on 2014 Fox forks right now, or pick up a Niner carbon for for the time being.

    You can also find really great deals on those frames slightly used.

    You could build up a pretty solid SS (even with a fork) for $2k.

    The money you saved on components you can put towards better brakes, wheels, and fork.

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  6. #6
    n00b eternal
    Reputation: ezweave's Avatar
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    Yeah, y'all are having me rethink the whole thing... I can get a Niner frame relatively cheap and may end up going that route.

  7. #7
    It's the axle
    Reputation: Gregg K's Avatar
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    A friend bought a Salsa Spearfish 29er that's so happy with he's buying a second. He couldn't believe how good a bike it is for the money. If you look around you can get one at a real price.

    This friend does know his stuff. He used to be Gary Fisher's mechanic.
    Note to self: 85% of FTP for 20 min.

  8. #8
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    The $1500 Question

    The crave is a raceable bike that can be converted to tubeless and is relatively light and when I read your title that was the first one to come to mind. You may have better options, but it's a great bike.

    I got a Crave SL to have a singlespeed (comes with a rigid fork) as a second bike for something different, and I love it. It handles great, and even with the rigid fork it is surprisingly well mannered and easy to negotiate technical sections, and doesn't mind catching air. I'm a base level racer and my main rig is a full suspension 29er, but I am thinking about putting gears on this and my suspension fork for some races because I expect it would be quick.

  9. #9
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    Take the pro deal, - a month is nothing to wait to save real money.

  10. #10
    I'd rather be riding
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    Yep. Pro deal the crave, add enve's and a new xx1 quarq (run 1x10) and you'd have a sweet rig.

  11. #11
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    If you can pro-deal a crave you can pro deal a carbon stumpjumper HT. The carbon comp stumpy is under 3K msrp should be under 2k pro-deal.
    Visiting St george/Hurricane? Stay at my vacation rental. Discounts for MTB's

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  12. #12
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    The $1500 Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedalfaraway View Post
    If you can pro-deal a crave you can pro deal a carbon stumpjumper HT. The carbon comp stumpy is under 3K msrp should be under 2k pro-deal.
    Probably the best solution right there. I love my crave for what it is but to get a stumpy carbon for that much would be an awesome start to what you wanna do.

  13. #13
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    Also since your setting yourself a budget and have a solid plan ask yourself if the powermeter especially the Quarq is really needed for singletrack when terrain dictates a lot of what you can put down. I would definitely say for your purposes a carbon vs. alu frame and drivetrain upgrades could be had for the price of that crank.
    XC, Road, XXC, Endurance, Mtn, All-Mtn, Cross, Gravel, just go have fun on 2 wheels!

  14. #14
    I wanna go fast!
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    Quote Originally Posted by HEMIjer View Post
    Also since your setting yourself a budget and have a solid plan ask yourself if the powermeter especially the Quarq is really needed for singletrack when terrain dictates a lot of what you can put down. I would definitely say for your purposes a carbon vs. alu frame and drivetrain upgrades could be had for the price of that crank.
    I completely agree. A power meter is excellent for training on the road bike, or maybe pacing in a road TT, but I've never found them useful on a MTB. Save that money and put it towards a better bike.

  15. #15
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    a little off tangent but powermeters are every bit as valuable on mtb if not more - especially as you get up in age. Keeping track of your workload is crucial for peaking/recovery especially when the efforts are as variable/unpredictable as they are on a mtb. OP is probably mid-30s based on the post but as you get closer to or beyond 40 you really need this data

  16. #16
    I wanna go fast!
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    I thought about adding this to my original post, but didn't. I suppose it depends on how much time you spend on the MTB for training purposes. I spend roughly 85% of my training workload on the road, as it is just too difficult to put in a lot of steady effort on trails around here (lots of tight technical stuff, no real extended climbing). A power meter on my MTB, for me, would be more of a novelty or a fun gadget than a necessary tool, especially compared to having one on the road bike. I'm sure it is valuable to those who train differently or spend more time on their MTB, but I still think if I had to decide between a power meter or a nicer bike, I'd go with the bike. Just my opinion.

  17. #17
    I love Pisgah
    Reputation: Duckman's Avatar
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    Just did this myself. Wanted a good fondation for a new race bike. All carbon Focus Raven. From their race line. Short stays but a slacker 70 degree steer tube. Very stable but still turns and climbs awesome. VERY compliant(bladed seat stays) for a HT. If you can ride a small(which is relatively large. I think I got the last 19" M)..and spend a tic more at $1799(left over 2013. reg price is $3200). Best deal I found for what you get. Same exact frame as their $7k bike.

    Focus Raven 5.0 29" Bike 2013 > Complete Bikes > Mountain Bikes | Jenson USA



    All internal cable routing. Reba RL fork. Magura MT2 brakes. SLX drivetrain. Added some new Crest wheels/XT cog first thing. 23lb 1oz with 4ti Eggs/bottle bracket, oem most everything, heavy Raceking 2.2 tires(650gm) and saddle (287gm). The clear tube sticking out is for the internal routing of a dropper seat tube cable if need be.


    "I've breathed the mtn air, man" Johnny Cash

    It's a long way to the top
    . . . if you wanna rock and roll (ac/dc)

  18. #18
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    My budget was about the same, but I did not have any access to pro deals. I went the used route and got a great Specialized Epic 29er. Full XT, Stans wheelset, etc - basically race ready when I received it. Still holding up quite well and performing nicely. Probably use it for another season and decided what to do after with it.
    Good luck!

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