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  1. #1
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    Best Bike Upgrade path

    I debated other categories, but since I'm upgrading specifically for racing, I thought those in this forum might help best. I appreciate your guidance in advance.

    First off, what I have...

    2015 stumpjumper fsr expert carbon 650b. The wheels have been upgraded to roval sl carbons, added xtr pedals, changed tires, the rest is stock.

    I haven't decided what bike exactly I want to upgrade to, but it will be my only bike which I mainly want to focus on my xc racing. I'll be upgrading from base class to sportsman, which means going from 10-12 mile average, to double that. Obviously higher competition etc. I'm set to get 2nd in my age class this year if all goes to plan, which is maybe 8th overall in the class.

    I suppose on to the purpose of the post... I have a really good component set on there already, and love the wheels. Therefore, I'm considering selling the frame and replacing with something that can use them. I realize that throws out going to boost wheels, but I don't know if I can afford to get a new bike with carbon wheels again. I think i want to go to an s-works epic. Does this make sense, or should I just sell the bike as a whole and buy as a whole? It just seems that I might actually be able to get a frame and fork for maybe only a little more than selling mine for? Maybe I'm kidding myself with how much I'd get for a 2015 stumpjumper frame and fork.

    Oh, I realize I'll probably want a seatpost, stem and new bars too if I did that.

    I've never sold or bought just the frame. Is this silly? I'm just trying to figure out how to make it happen with the least out of pocket since my wife will already not like the idea.

    Thanks!

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  2. #2
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    Your Roval Control SL wheels use DT Swiss based hubs and can be simply converted to Boost spacing using adapters to change the end caps. The rear wheel needs to be redished slightly too but that's all.

    https://www.specialized.com/us/en/co...-29-142/129290

    If you're considering a Specialized Epic the current models only come in 29" wheel sizes however so your 650b wheels would still need replacing. That could potentially be a deciding factor, whether you keep the 650b wheels and get a frame that will take them, or change the lot.

  3. #3
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    Hmmmm... Forgot about the epic only coming in 29. I'm not dead set on the epic. I had a niner RIP9 before the stumpjumper and really loved how much more nimble the 27.5 felt, but my RIP9 was a 2009 model so maybe people have worked out some of the handling of 29ers since. I guess all xc specific bikes are 29ers now. Okay now I'm off topic.

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  4. #4
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    There are full suspension 650b XC bikes.

    Eg: Scott Spark 700

    https://www.scott-sports.com/gb/en/page/spark

    Giant Anthem 2017

    https://www.giant-bicycles.com/gb/bikes-anthem

    .

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post
    There are full suspension 650b XC bikes.

    Eg: Scott Spark 700

    https://www.scott-sports.com/gb/en/page/spark

    Giant Anthem 2017

    https://www.giant-bicycles.com/gb/bikes-anthem

    .
    In my experience, building up can be risky: new complete bikes sell for less than the sum of their new parts; forks and shocks won't always behave similarly between frame designs. It can also be super fun to build if you have patience and are willing to learn.

    I race XC on a 27.5 Scott Spark. Couldn't be happier. You can get a complete, used, top line spark for less than $4k. Spend $150 on some not-carbon wheels, sell your current rig with those wheels, buy the spark and slap on your rovals. Spesh fanboys will give you flack but carry on.....

  6. #6
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    What's wrong with your current bike? Why not race it?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    What's wrong with your current bike? Why not race it?
    I am racing it now. I love it, and actually doing well on it. I'm just realizing that i don't need 150mm of travel for the courses I race, and that is costing me efficiency. I guess I have no idea how much the extra couple of pounds and loss of efficiency from the extra squish is costing me time wise. maybe I should see if I can rent a bike like I'm looking at? Jeez though. Are you suggesting the difference isn't that much? Even over a 2 hr race?

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by winters.benjamin View Post

    I race XC on a 27.5 Scott Spark. Couldn't be happier. You can get a complete, used, top line spark for less than $4k. Spend $150 on some not-carbon wheels, sell your current rig with those wheels, buy the spark and slap on your rovals. Spesh fanboys will give you flack but carry on.....
    I like this idea. I've been looking at them and like the specs on the spark. I'm surprised that the head angle is almost spot on to the stumpjumper. The epic is several degrees steeper if I recall.

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thumper33 View Post
    I am racing it now. I love it, and actually doing well on it. I'm just realizing that i don't need 150mm of travel for the courses I race, and that is costing me efficiency. I guess I have no idea how much the extra couple of pounds and loss of efficiency from the extra squish is costing me time wise. maybe I should see if I can rent a bike like I'm looking at? Jeez though. Are you suggesting the difference isn't that much? Even over a 2 hr race?

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    No, there won't be a huge difference. Faster, yes. But it is way more about the rider on the bike then the bike itself. The lower the category, the less important the bike is.

    I would test the bikes first and make sure you like what you are thinking about. I started racing on a 130mm bike, I upgraded to an XC HT, but kept the other bike to beat on for training. Baring in mind that the fast racers are skilled in not just pedaling, but also descending. The top XC, enduro, and downhill racers can easily enter as experts or above in any other form of racing and still be fast. So if upgrading to a better XC bike means you don't train as hard i downhill anymore, then it isn't an upgrade. Totally your call though.

    But honestly, if 150mm is too much, I would look at a hardtail. A full suspension XC bike is just a softer HT. I'm a higher level local racer, and my descending times are on par with all the full suspension bikes, but far cheaper.

    (That said, I am going FS next season. Looking at an Epic FSR)

  10. #10
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    Best Bike Upgrade path

    If I were you I'd just do a test. Find a local loop you can do the test on. Run the same tires on both bikes (rolling resistance difference between tires can easily be multiples of the difference in efficiency between bikes). Rent or demo the bike you are thinking about switching to. Put the tires/wheels on it, if it's a 29er buy the 29er version. Do time trials to find out which one is actually faster and by how much.

    This will probably save you a couple grand. If not, you'll know exactly what you are getting and will be in a better position to compare other bikes you demo.

    Generally the difference between a 150mm bike and a 100mm bike in terms of efficiency is a lot less than people think. Depending on the course/bike weight is a bigger factor than the pedaling efficiency difference.

    This type of testing alone has easily saved me from making many "upgrades".
    Last edited by litany; 07-31-2017 at 09:26 AM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post

    But honestly, if 150mm is too much, I would look at a hardtail. A full suspension XC bike is just a softer HT. I'm a higher level local racer, and my descending times are on par with all the full suspension bikes, but far cheaper.
    If I got a ht I probably would ride less technical terrain. I really love tech and downhill so I agree that would be a bad move. I'm 41, so I do need some squish for comfort in the rough stuff... Especially since I'm doing 40-50 miles of trail every week training. My training won't go down. I'm trying to get faster. I'm pretty well rounded, but climbing is my weakest spot. I've been focusing on that and have gotten MUCH faster on them. In Strava, I usually place in the top 5 percent now. Sprinted a 3 mile loop this morning and was 17th this year out of 409 people. Some sections were top 11, the climbs I was #52 and #33, so I know that's where I lose time.

    Anyway. I'm just doing everything I can to get faster. I have no doubt that I'll continue to get faster on whatever bike I ride. I haven't plateaued yet. If the bike cut 10 percent off my ride times, I'd have been number 3 this year. . Not sure it really works like that though. Taking 10 percent off of just the climbs I'd have been @ # 13. Im not just training for Strava, but It all translates to races.

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  12. #12
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    I prefer to do all my climbing on my 32 pound 130mm FS bike with flats. Makes my 21 pound HT feel much faster in a race!

    I imagine the bike update will save you a bit, but nothing spectacular. I assume you are already setting up the Stumpy for XC by running the suspension settings much stiffer anyway.

    I'm 37. I haven't peaked yet, but I'm not going to get much faster then I am now. I'm racing a HT and don't have the need to save from the beating, I want FS for technical climbing. I do think that Strava climbing segments, particularly the hardest climbing ones, are a good way to measure yourself. The more popular the segment, the longer it is, and the harder it is to cheat (short cuts, etc), the better.

    Compare those times as a percentage to see how you are fairing.

    I just looked through my Strava to try and find something. Unfortunately the climb I wanted to compare I obviously never put a hard effort in on my trail bike, so that's a wash. But I found another less popular climb to compare (500 people) where I know I put in a hard effort between the two bikes. Segment is all climbing, non technical dirt, no way to cheat:
    -28 pound'ish (more, but close enough)
    -130mm
    -650b light'ish aluminum wheels
    -Set up for XC
    -24 minutes, 21 seconds

    -21 pound XC HT
    -29, VERY light carbon wheels
    -21:21

    Roughly a 12% difference. Bare I'm mind they are efforts two years apart and I have gotten stronger. But that gives you something to go on. 10% might be close to what you get, read into that data how you like. I don't want to post the links to the numbers because as I have said elsewhere, I'm fast, but not fast enough to brag about it

  13. #13
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    Thanks sidewalk for the interesting post.

    This is my first year riding in any competitive mode. I've also never really ridden with any kind of supreme motivation to get faster, other than just wanting to keep up with some friends. To be honest, I wasn't really even thinking about racing until some friends suggested it. Now I'm hooked!

    In the beginning of my training this year, I really had no idea what kind of gains were possible. I started training on a loop that I had been doing in about 36 minutes and my goal was to get it under 33. At the time I really thought that was going to be a stretch. I now have it down to almost 32 minutes, and I bet I could have it down to 31 by the end of the year. I'm really amazed at just how much faster I have gotten, and how much more fun it is now. :-). If I could get another 5% (let alone 10 or 12%) out of going to a more race specific bike then that would be awesome!



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  14. #14
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    I doubt you'd get 5%. Here's an interesting comparison between two Giant Trances, but 3 lbs weight difference. His timed climb was 12:28 with the high end bike, and 12:29 with the midrange:

    https://youtu.be/4pGYU1ld9G4

  15. #15
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    If you're racing for placings then the lightest bike is better, but if you also want to play on the trails, then your current bike is almost perfect.

  16. #16
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    I would just build up a spare parts Chinese carbon hardtail and keep your bike.

    I spent 400 more and bought a New XTC Carbon hardtail frame on ebay from a shop and built up a bike to train on and race on weaksauce courses. Having two bikes has been a god send.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by FJSnoozer View Post
    I would just build up a spare parts Chinese carbon hardtail and keep your bike.

    I spent 400 more and bought a New XTC Carbon hardtail frame on ebay from a shop and built up a bike to train on and race on weaksauce courses. Having two bikes has been a god send.
    Hmmmmmm... Thinking about it, that might actually be an excellent idea. Most of the courses that erase don't really need a full suspension anyway. I can still use my Stumpjumper on the two courses that will actually benefit from that, and use the efficiency of a hardtail for the other ones. That's probably a way better overall strategy anyway. :-) I can build a hardtail pretty cheap comparatively, which would be much lighter, but maybe more importantly, more efficient for sure!

    Well great, now I have a whole new subject to research... I've never really thought anything about hardtails in a long time. I do still actually have my old College bike... A 1996 specialized Rockhopper comp. I would totally just start by building that, except that the fork on it is so terrible and my understanding is that they don't make forks with that hold head size anymore so I can't get a decent fork for it anymore. The only reason I still have it is to loan it out when friends come into town, and it won't sell for much. I don't even think that the components would be worth moving over to a new project bike. Heck, I can't even think of anything that would fit on most modern frames. They are old Rim brakes, 26in Wheels, and I don't remember for sure but I think it was a three by six drivetrain. I'm pretty sure the thing was heavier than my Stumpjumper FSR. LOL

    Okay, I'll even know why I mentioned it except to talk it through, but I think it is probably still left as a crappy loaner bike.

    Any other suggestions on bargain carbon hardtail frames?

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  18. #18
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    I'm a big advocate of having more then one bike, if possible. I'd rather have two lower spec bike than one great one.

    My current race bike is a HT. Most of my competition are all on FS now. All, except of course, the fastest guy, go figure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    My current race bike is a HT. Most of my competition are all on FS now. All, except of course, the fastest guy, go figure.
    It has A LOT to do w/ conditions/terrain. I've raced/rode an HT for years and just recently bought an XC specific FS bike. There are sections I'm faster on the FS, but as a whole I'm no faster on my overall times. I am MUCH less beat up though after I'm done riding and that has in itself been worth it to me.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by flynbryan19 View Post
    It has A LOT to do w/ conditions/terrain. I've raced/rode an HT for years and just recently bought an XC specific FS bike. There are sections I'm faster on the FS, but as a whole I'm no faster on my overall times. I am MUCH less beat up though after I'm done riding and that has in itself been worth it to me.
    Very much course specific. But the fast guy is fast enough to be competitive in the US Cup, finishing on the lead lap at Fontana, Bonelli, and Sea Otter. It's hard to compare to that level of power output.

    The FS bike will give me climbing traction though. It may only shave a few seconds on the downhill, I don't expect much there. But I have issues on the technical climbs. Running the HT means more tire pressure, so I bounce off of rocks instead of grabbing them. I already like to race with a 2.25+ tires for that reason.

    I only feel worn down on long races, like the 8 hour series I'm in. 6 or less isn't issue. Tinker does those races on the higher spec model bike I'm on, so it's not the bike

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    The FS bike will give me climbing traction though. It may only shave a few seconds on the downhill, I don't expect much there. But I have issues on the technical climbs. Running the HT means more tire pressure, so I bounce off of rocks instead of grabbing them. I already like to race with a 2.25+ tires for that reason.
    This is exactly why I decided to get a FS bike. I'm sure it could simply be blamed on lack of talent/ability but I also struggled on technical/rooty/rocky climbs. I also just had a hard time making myself pedal through rough straights on the HT that I can now sit and spin through on the FS. I "probably" would have been faster on a HT with a more forgiving frame design (read: carbon/higher end dedicated xc bike), but my riding leans more towards aggressive recreation than serious xc racer only. I'm very happy with my purchase.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by flynbryan19 View Post
    This is exactly why I decided to get a FS bike. I'm sure it could simply be blamed on lack of talent/ability but I also struggled on technical/rooty/rocky climbs. I also just had a hard time making myself pedal through rough straights on the HT that I can now sit and spin through on the FS. I "probably" would have been faster on a HT with a more forgiving frame design (read: carbon/higher end dedicated xc bike), but my riding leans more towards aggressive recreation than serious xc racer only. I'm very happy with my purchase.
    It's certainly a band aid for me. While I am still improving, both in power and technique, it isn't by much. I'm near maxed out on my talent. But I figure if the real pro's are choosing the FS bike on the exact same course, then there is something to it. Chris Blevins raced and won on a FS on the XC course I'm thinking of, returned Sunday to win short track on the HT. So he obviously had the option.

    My HT performs way to well to let it go. I haven't found it's limits yet, and I've gotten some decent air on it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    It's certainly a band aid for me. While I am still improving, both in power and technique, it isn't by much. I'm near maxed out on my talent. But I figure if the real pro's are choosing the FS bike on the exact same course, then there is something to it. Chris Blevins raced and won on a FS on the XC course I'm thinking of, returned Sunday to win short track on the HT. So he obviously had the option.

    My HT performs way to well to let it go. I haven't found it's limits yet, and I've gotten some decent air on it.
    All of my formative years on a MTB were spent on a HT - not that the 90s offered much of a choice, mind you - and my technical skills (I believe) climbing and descending are all the better for it. The FS version of me in a XCO race is faster than the HT version of me, but usually not by minutes rather by seconds. But if I hadn't paid my dues on a HT first, I don't think I would have learned balance, lines and riding loose as well as I did - all of which are prerequisites for speed IMO.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by winters.benjamin View Post
    All of my formative years on a MTB were spent on a HT - not that the 90s offered much of a choice, mind you - and my technical skills (I believe) climbing and descending are all the better for it. The FS version of me in a XCO race is faster than the HT version of me, but usually not by minutes rather by seconds. But if I hadn't paid my dues on a HT first, I don't think I would have learned balance, lines and riding loose as well as I did - all of which are prerequisites for speed IMO.
    I agree. Though most of my skills were ported over from motorcycle racing. It really is surprising how natural it feels going from sliding a road race bike through a turn to sliding a mountain bike! I actually got into MTB because a friend of mine, a former AMA pro (who also raced at Macau) started racing MTB endurance after ultra running after he quit racing motorcycles professionally (I know him from his 'fun' racing, post pro). You have to do a lot of the same kind of movements, shifting your body around for traction and such, it feels really natural doing it on the MTB.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    I agree. Though most of my skills were ported over from motorcycle racing. It really is surprising how natural it feels going from sliding a road race bike through a turn to sliding a mountain bike! I actually got into MTB because a friend of mine, a former AMA pro (who also raced at Macau) started racing MTB endurance after ultra running after he quit racing motorcycles professionally (I know him from his 'fun' racing, post pro). You have to do a lot of the same kind of movements, shifting your body around for traction and such, it feels really natural doing it on the MTB.
    No experience riding motorcycles, but sure looks fun. I've heard some say that the bodyweight distribution is different on a moto; that you're pulling the moto through a corner, weight to the inside, fighting the bike to lean when it wants to flip to the outside of the corner. Whereas on a mtb bodyweight can be more on the outside, pushing the bike toward the inside of the corner. Is that true from your experience?

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by winters.benjamin View Post
    No experience riding motorcycles, but sure looks fun. I've heard some say that the bodyweight distribution is different on a moto; that you're pulling the moto through a corner, weight to the inside, fighting the bike to lean when it wants to flip to the outside of the corner. Whereas on a mtb bodyweight can be more on the outside, pushing the bike toward the inside of the corner. Is that true from your experience?
    Most fun I have ever had with my clothes on...or off. Nothing can compare to the feeling of riding a race only bike on the track (one of my bikes was a GP125 chassis, not street legal).

    The specifics of riding a motorcycle are different, but the techniques and feel transfer over. Kind of like how dirt bikers seem to naturally handle road race motorcycles, and road racers tend to train on dirt bikes, both groups also ride mountain bikes.

    You don't fight a road race motorcycle much, it is all very gentle and delicate inputs. You shift your weight inside to keep as much tire in contact with the ground as possible while turning, but there is a lot of finesse going on that isn't visible. You are giving gentle inputs to the bars, gentle input with your knee into the tank, gentle input to the inside or outside peg (inside to tighten your line, outside to regain traction), shifting weight forward to keep the wheel down, shifting weight back to get the rear to stick. It really is a ballet, with the motorcycle as your dance partner.

    Here's an old video with some of the guys I used to race with. Video heats up about 2 minutes in ("heats" up, it is probably 100+ degrees outside too).
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30zIZttmbFM

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    I agree. Though most of my skills were ported over from motorcycle racing. It really is surprising how natural it feels going from sliding a road race bike through a turn to sliding a mountain bike! I actually got into MTB because a friend of mine, a former AMA pro (who also raced at Macau) started racing MTB endurance after ultra running after he quit racing motorcycles professionally (I know him from his 'fun' racing, post pro). You have to do a lot of the same kind of movements, shifting your body around for traction and such, it feels really natural doing it on the MTB.
    I learned on dirt bikes as well. For me perhaps the biggest advantage to that was learning to be comfortable buzzing past trees at ridiculous speeds. Also, feeling at home in an attack position, and being able to slide or drift in slick or loose spots. I try to avoid riding in the wet, but I find I'm even more competitive in it. I feel like the Ayrton Senna of MTN biking.. lol

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    Prior dirt bike / atv rider/racer here as well. All sentiment I can support/confirm. Mtn biking is the closest thing to riding/racing a dirt bike in the woods that I've found. Biggest reason I got into it. Started mtn biking as a way to cross train for dirtbike racing and liked it so much I am now riding/racing mtn bikes instead.

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