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  1. #1
    XC Hack
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    29er XC race bikes?

    I'm currently on a 26 FS and I'm pondering about a new bike and was wondering what to get, a 29er HT or FS? I know the riding style for each is different (slightly more hovering for the HT over bumpy stuff, seated cruising over the same bumpy stuff with the FS).

    Other than the weight difference between the two groups, why not just get a FS and ride locked out for climbs? Is the HT that much better/stiffer going up or in sprints? Any other major diffs/advantages to either one?

    I race both OTH and Enduro Stuff series here in So Cal--two very different venues (OTH is 1000 ft or less of climbing over 15 miles--longest climb is 1/4 mile, lots of rolling fireroads; Enduro Stuff is 2000+ feet of climbing over 20 miles--some climbs 1-1.5 miles long, some fireroads, and rocky, technical ST descents) if that helps. My fun riding is the same, I keep it on the ground. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    I've owned Superfly and Cannondale Flash. Currently on Giant Anthem 29er and I won't be going back to hardtail.

    Strava data at our midweek races show that I'm slightly slower on up hills, but more than make that up on the DHs. (5s loss versus 10-15s gain, for this particular course). I changed bikes in middle of series and DH gain was immediate.

    Btw, Bike weight difference was nearly 4 pounds, 24.7 vs. 21 pounds (flash).
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  3. #3
    I'd rather be riding
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    I switched from a trek top fuel 8 (26 fs) to a superfly al and my times (via strava) have been pretty much dead on the same, with both bike weights right around 24 lbs. If anything I feel a bit faster downhill on the hardtail (likely due to better grip and a slacker HA). I'd love to try a fs 29 or 650, however but don't have the funds to build one to what I consider raceable weight. In addition as a broke college student I'm much more comfortable having a hardtail as my only mtb, less maintenance and fear of breaking (snapped the top fuel after 2 xc race seasons).

  4. #4
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    Fwiw...nearly all of the fastest guys (Cat 1s and pros) in the US CUP west are on 29er hardtails. Most courses here in S. Calif. do not demand rear suspension.

    29er full suspension is overkill for most of the courses out here imo. I do know there are plenty of racers who prefer the full susp, but they are definitely in the minority.

    I do suggest that you invest in an RDO seatpost or something similar with a little more flex to take the sting out of the bumps. Makes a big difference after long miles..

  5. #5
    I'd rather be riding
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydbyk View Post

    I do suggest that you invest in an RDO seatpost or something similar with a little more flex to take the sting out of the bumps. Makes a big difference after long miles..
    Ding ding ding!!! Love my syntace p6 hiflex!!!

  6. #6
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    If you're in the OC go to the Path and rent a Ht and FS and see how you like them. Or just wait for one of the numerous demo days and try them then.

  7. #7
    Big Damn Hero
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    I went from an aluminum fs 26er (KHS XC604) last fall to a carbon 29er (Orbea Alma) and immediately was faster at pretty much every trail I rode at. I recently purchased a carbon fs 29er (Cannondale Scalpel) and I've set PRs on Strava pretty much every time I've ridden... the fs 29er is simply a better fit for me and my riding style. I actually feel like I climb better on it than the Orbea and because of the higher bottom bracket of the fs bike, I can clear more techy obstacles.

    I'm a fs 29er kind of guy for sure... can't wait to start racing it in a few weeks!
    Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. ~ Albert Einstein

  8. #8
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    I agree with rydbyk in that here in so. cal., the vast majority of fast guys are on hardtails. However admittedly I am in the minority in that I prefer FS. Like Ponch says, I'm a bit slower on the climbs but can usually make that up on the descents. The FS also allows me to sit and hammer on flat rough sections which I love. I do own and sometimes ride a HT (Flash), but unless its a really smooth course, I just don't feel like I'm that much faster on it and feel like I lose when the going gets rough. In addition, I recently moved up to Cat. 1 and with the longer race times, the HT beat the crap out of me last time I raced it. I probably just need to harden the f up!

  9. #9
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    Its almost impossible to find a fs bike that offers a lockout on the rear. Many bikes don't even have a front lockout if they are sold with fox forks. Personally I like a true lockout and would not consider a lightweight racing hardtail without a lockout. No CTD for me. Don't let those pre-teens that work at bike shops tell you that if you set it up right a CTD fork is just like a lockout. I have ridden a few and when set to proper sag the C setting is not stiff enough to prevent bob during out of the saddle efforts. Frankly CTD sucks.

    Given my feelings on CTD I purchased a Cannondale Flash carbon 29'er at the end of last season mostly because the fork offered what I was looking for. I also have a 26 inch titus racer-x. I have ridden the 2 bikes back to back and there really is not a significant difference in lap times between the two.

    My advice would be if you can only have one bike make it a FS. If you can keep your current bike and get newer lighter hardtail, you can decide which is faster for yourself.
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  10. #10
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    I get pretty beatup on my 29er hardtail, I upped to C1 in late spring and of course the longer races are worse, cat2 races are pretty easy to endure on the hardtail as are smoother courses. When I can justify the expense, I'm going to get a fs 29er. Even if I'm not really any faster I imagine I'll feel a lot better the next couple of days, it's hard enough to work on Monday without having been hammered on the race course on Sunday. For now I'm doing more back strength exercises.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pedalfaraway View Post
    Many bikes don't even have a front lockout if they are sold with fox forks.
    My last 2 bikes with fox forks have had lockouts. I dont know where you're getting that from?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pedalfaraway View Post
    Given my feelings on CTD I purchased a Cannondale Flash carbon 29'er at the end of last season mostly because the fork offered what I was looking for
    I too like a full lockout via remote and is one of the reasons I went with a Flash as well.

  13. #13
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    My last 4 bikes had Fox Forks with Lockouts. I loved them. In 2013 if your new bike has a Fox fork its most likely a CTD which means it lacks a lockout. I demoed several hardtails with Fox forks and was not impressed. I had the chance to ride a Rocky Mtn Vertex with a Sid and remote lockout which was awesome. Fox does offer a lockout with the electronic ICD system but its very expensive and none of the hardtails in my 3k price range had one.
    Last edited by Pedalfaraway; 07-26-2013 at 06:45 PM.
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  14. #14
    Formerly of Kent
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    Hardtail with big, fat, light tubeless tires. Or, if you have the cash, tubulars.
    Last edited by Le Duke; 07-26-2013 at 03:46 AM.

  15. #15
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    Hardtail with big, fat, light tubeless tires. Or, if you have the cash, tubulars.
    Which ones you liking for hardpack trails so far?

  16. #16
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    RK 2.2; light weight, big volume, low rolling resistance, and now easy to setup tubeless.

  17. #17
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    Most guys in Cat 1 that I race with have 29er hardtails, but I sure do love my new 22lb Jet 9! For me, cornering and minor terrain adjustments are the real hidden benefit. It just flows.

  18. #18
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    Quote Originally Posted by quax View Post
    RK 2.2; light weight, big volume, low rolling resistance, and now easy to setup tubeless.
    you running them front and back? also, what change was made to make them "now easy to set up tubeless?" thx.

  19. #19
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    yes, front and back.

    With the old Supersonics sealing the sidewalls was a tough job. Apparently the inner coating was of varying quality. Sometimes sealing would work, sometimes not. Conti changed the Asian supplier. Now everything is sourced from Germany. Seemed to have improved quality. I've set up several RaceSport variants, super easy. Haven't tried the (new) Supersonics. Those are only 30 g lighter but less robust. Therefore not really an alternative for me.

  20. #20
    Happy Trails
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    29er XC race bikes?

    I'm a mediocre-skills rider usually ~ 3000 miles per year and ~40th percentile in Strava segments. Im putting together some hard tail versus full suspension data on a ten mile semi-technical XC course with two Cannondale Lefty 29er bikes set up otherwise nearly identically. I want to get about ten runs on each bike in before I draw any conclusions ... But full-sus has an early lead.

  21. #21
    Formerly of Kent
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydbyk View Post
    Which ones you liking for hardpack trails so far?
    I borrowed a set of ENVE tubulars and Geax Saguaro tires a couple of years back that was like riding on a magic carpet. It literally floated over everything. They were heavy at 700g a piece, but if you're riding fast trails with minimal accelerations, that would be the ticket. Amazing ride, massive lateral grip.

    Right now I have two sets of wheels, both of which I've scored great deals on. Enve XC clinchers with 2.25 RoRo front and rear (I've used NoNi 2.35...massive traction), and a pair of DT Swiss XRC 950T tubulars that I'm pairing with Tufo XC4s, which come in a true 2.2". Don't have any ride time on the DTs/Tufos, as I'm in AFG, but all reviews say the lateral grip is absolutely amazing.

    Another thing to consider is this: tubulars open up new lines on the trail. You can get away with things on them that would pinch even a tubeless setup. Not great for areas with sharp rocks, but if you have smoother babyheads, small boulders or roots, definitely consider them.

  22. #22
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    Pretty pleased with my jet 9 aluminum. Its 25.7 lbs with XX1 and crest/hope wheels. It's fast and handles great. Just did a 100mi event. Had a blast on it!

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