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  1. #1
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    help deciding among Santa Cruz / Pivot / other?

    Hey folks,

    History:
    I last bought a MTB in '06 ('07 Stumpy FSR), and I'm ready for a new one. I want a 29er, FS, trail bike. Lively on muddy, techy climbs (frequently climbing over roots while turning uphill); stable DH; capable, but I'm no bike-park kind of guy, and I don't race. I'm in OK shape and have OK skills, but I'm not an MTB god or anything. I'd been thinking $4500ish.

    So I rode and ruled out offerings from Specialized (Stumpy), Trek (Fuel EX 9.7), and Giant (Anthem). My local shops have a limited and odd assortment, and I won't buy a bike I can't ride first, so what I've come down to now is this:

    1) '18 SC Hightower C S-build, discounted 15% to $4,100.

    2) [the bike I shouldn't have tried] '18 Pivot Trail 429 Pro XT/XTR build with piggy-back shock upgrade = $5,800.

    3) I'm interested in a Norco Sight Carbon, but nobody within 3 hours of me has one....

    Dilemma: I like the SC, and was about to pull the trigger, but then I went and rode that damn Pivot. I sort of felt that I liked it more, but it's hard to tell, because I'm not able to demo either out on a trail. So I'm stuck with just cruising city streets and hopping curbs to get the feel.

    I need help talking myself into spending less and getting the SC, or figuring out if it's worth it to spend a lot more on the Pivot...or something else that I haven't thought of...

  2. #2
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    I can tell you this: if you get the bike you like less, you'll always want the one you didn't buy.

    If you buy the Pivot, every once in a while you'll think: I coulda got some upgrades with all that $$$$, but you'll never think: I wish I had that other bike I didn't like as much b/c it was cheaper.

  3. #3
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    id get he Hightower. i demoed it in Santa Cruz, its sweet. lifetime frame warranty, free pivot bearings for life, threaded bottom bracket, things awesome

  4. #4
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    Hightower but the wheelset uses Dt 370 hubs and a 27mm rim. I'd negotiate to swap those for 'NEW Reserve 37 rim' wheelset with Dt 350 hubs with ratchets not pawls.

  5. #5
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    What is the Hightower suspension spec? I checked competitive Cyclist, which is SC and Pivot dealer, and some Hightower models have Revelation fork, meh. Pivot XT model may have a Fox 36?

    Why not buy one of these or another brand from online like CC?

    Sent from my moto x4 using Tapatalk

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjsb View Post
    What is the Hightower suspension spec? I checked competitive Cyclist, which is SC and Pivot dealer, and some Hightower models have Revelation fork, meh. Pivot XT model may have a Fox 36?

    Why not buy one of these or another brand from online like CC?

    Sent from my moto x4 using Tapatalk
    Thanks for the replies so far!

    This HT has (forks) Fox Performance 36 vs Factory 34 on the Pivot and (shocks) Float and DPSX2, respectively. Both pretty solid, though of course the Factory is nicer ó not sure how much difference that makes in the real world.

    Iíve thought of upgrading the wheelset on the HT if I go that route.

  7. #7
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    Try your best to do an on trail demo to know for sure. It probably comes down to your local terrain but for climbing tech as you described I loved the trail429 compared to the HT. I only did a short demo on the HT and had the 429 for a day and a half so I could have judged it too quickly. The 429 just gets up and goes when you hit the pedals. The HT will be more plush downhill but I wasn't complaining too much on the downhills on the 429. I would like a Santa Cruz but just didn't love the and wasn't a fan of the standard HT.

    You do have to ask yourself ff you will be happy with the 11-46 Shimano drive train on Pivot though, or will you want to upgrade it because the HT S build has the Sram Eagle. Disclaimer: I ordered the 429 ProXT build you rode after a demo with the Race GX build and will probably end up switching out the cassette for a bit before upgrading the whole drive train later. My main reason for going with the ProXT build was for the dt swiss 350 hubs and dpx2 shock upgrade. I'm frankly not good enough of a rider to feel a difference between the factory and performance shocks if there is even a real difference other than more adjustments.

  8. #8
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    Buy the one you want more.

    My last bike I spent around $4000 originally and wasn't fully happy and put another $4000 into it. Now I have a very expensive bike that is good but not great.

    This time I ordered a $9000 fully loaded Ibis Ripmo and I won't need to upgrade anything and when I get it in the next week or two all I need to do is ride and have fun. No trips to the parts counter wondering what I could buy to make it better.

  9. #9
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    Yeah, go check out the 429 models on Competitive Cyclist. I see an XT equipped model for $4699 and an SRAM XO for $5199. Depending on your state, you may not pay tax an/or shipping. If your order it through Active Junky https://www.activejunky.com/retailer...titive-cyclist the kickback is 6% as well.
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  10. #10
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    I really love my pivot. I wouldn't buy another one because they don't offer frames anymore and my wheels are not super-boost, but none of those appear to be an issue for you. Their bikes are very stiff laterally and make a lot out of the rear suspension, even when there isn't that much. Overall very nice bikes and well thought out. If I was buying a whole bike new, I wouldn't hesitate to get one. It's definitely a "keeper", in the sense that it'll run great season after season. I can't say the same for some of the mass-produced bikes out there.

    I'm just passing 2 years of owning this thing and I got it for XC racing and it's delivered in spades. One of those situations where it has delivered on what I bought it for and I can't fault it at all. I kinda wanted a Turner Czar, but that was another grand and a half for the frame. The only advantage with that frame is the more open front triangle. I definitely think I made the right choice this far down the road, rather than buy the more expensive frame, as good as the Czars are.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  11. #11
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    I would suggest you try to demo a Sight. I spent 2 weeks demoing bikes. I put money down on what I thought was my dream bike. While I was waiting for it to arrive, the LBS gave me a Sight rental for free to use. I cancelled my order the day after I rode the Sight, and got a C1 29er instead. I knew within minutes of riding the rental that the Sight was the one for me.

    It may or may not be the one for you. It was a real darkhorse matched against the heavyweights and for me, it knocked them straight the f out. In fact, I didnít even want to ride it. It was heavier than the other bikes, and not specíed nearly as nicely. I reluctantly took it out because my daughter was hounding me to go for a ride. And then it happened. Boom. I told my daughter ďI made a big mistake hereĒ. I went home after that first ride and all I could think about all night was how unbelievably fun that bike was to ride. I had a smile on my face the entire time.

    The Fox Factory 36 and DPX2 are magical. I swapped the Reverb for a Transfer, and the E*13 wheelset and tires for a We Are One Insider/DT240 wheelset with a DHF/DHR2 combo.

    I am blown away every ride by how well it seems to do every single thing. I can straight line it through the gnar, or take things slower, searching for and popping it off every natural kicker in sight. It corners like itís on rails and climbing, it feels like there is an engine in it. The only negative I can say about it is that I love climbing with the shock in trail mode, and descending with it wide open. A remote would be the ultimate but I suppose I will get used to slowing down and flicking the switch manually, on the fly.

    Edit: the rental I had was the C3. It is squarely within your budget. The C3 is an awesome bike. Bang for the buck, it blows the C1 away. I would be stoked riding that bike right out of the box, stock. You could swap the brakes I suppose, but even that is completely unnecessary. And yeah - a HT and a new Stumpy Expert were among the bikes I demoed.
    Last edited by mtnbkrmike; 08-11-2018 at 06:55 AM.

  12. #12
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    Here is my feedback based on owning bikes from both brands and demo'ing both the HT and new Trail 429:

    Both are top tier bikes with performance capabilities way beyond what most riders will ever fully use.

    SC wins on warranty hands down.

    IMHO, the $1700 price difference is insane. You could upgrade the SC to carbon wheels and still be money ahead vs the Pivot. You can get GX spec Yeti SB 4.5 for $600 less than the Pivot.

    Although improved from the old model, for some riders, the Pivot still has some goofy and limited sizing. For example: At 6'-2.5" I could never get properly fit on a XL Pivot (their largest frame) but a XL SC was perfect and if I needed more, they offer an XXL. My wife ran into the same issue for smaller Pivots. Fit is everything so if one of these bikes won't fit you properly, then nothing else matters.

    Super Boost? C'mon Man...

    The SRAM brakes on the SC would need to go. Please refer to the Brake section in this forum.

    I wound up buying a Tallboy because it has better overall handling and for me it outperforms the HT and 429 when climbing.

    With all of that said, when spending this much money on a bike, there is really no substitute for taking your time to weight options and doing proper test rides on the trails you normally ride. Look for demo or rentals in your area.

  13. #13
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    I would go for a pole evolink 131

  14. #14
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    For background info, I own a Trail429. I have ridden the regular HT multiple times as friends own them. I also have a Yeti SB5 which is a fantastic trail bike for some comparison. I purchased the T429 for more mellow or XC trails.

    The HT is a bigger bike for sure. 140/150 front and 135 in the rear. For non-technical climbing I don't think there is much of a different between the VPP on the SC and DW link on the Pivot. So, I would say they climb the same there. For technical climbing the DW definitely wins around here. It has just enough give to maintain traction, where the VPP seems stiffer initially, but leads to more pedal strikes. I would give the edge to the Pivot for overall climbing, but if you do mostly less technical climbs, it's a draw.

    The Pivot really surprised me on the down hills. Rear end is plush, but uses it's travel better than the SC. I'd say the rear end suspension is a draw. The HT wins with the longer fork though and slightly slacker HA. Maybe an overforked T429 would be equivalent, but not the stock.

    Agility definitely goes to the Pivot. That bike is super stiff. I used to scoff when people said they could really feel a huge difference between one high quality brand and another in a full suspension bike, but I totally get it. With the short stays and decent reach on the Pivot, you can really drive this bike with your hips when cornering and twisty singletrack is very easy to get through.

    It depends on what you want out of the bike, but the Pivot works great for me. It gives up just a bit on the chunky downs, but I think it makes it up in most other areas. I had been planning to put a 140 fork on it to make it more capable, but I'm finding that it rides so well that it's not a priority and might never happen.

    If the Pivot sings to you more, I can say that you won't be disappointed.

  15. #15
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    I rode an original Mach 429 for 7 years and loved it. Figured I'd just upgrade to the newest one when the time came, but when I demo'd it, and the Switchblade, it was "just OK".

    After doing a bunch of reading and research, decided the Hightower would be a good option and demo'd it and was lucky enough to get to use both wheelsets (27.5 and 29) and I was sold.

    Then I demo'd a Transition Smuggler and, well, nothing else mattered after that. I really wanted the dual wheel size capability, but decided the tradeoff for the performance of the Smuggler was worth it.

    Then Ibis came out with the Ripmo - Smuggler geo with more travel. And dual wheel size capability. But, for the same spec, it was $1100 more. And our local shop only had a M to demo, not a large.

    I bought the carbon Smuggler and, for what you describe (great climbing, stable DH), it's an amazing bike. It makes me look better... and it makes me a better rider. That is, it's so good, it lets me push myself harder and into more things. Like you, I'm no MTB god... just an old guy trying to get better and learn new things. I am completely happy with this bike and can unconditionally recommend this bike for anyone... and especially for people like you describe yourself.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiahh View Post
    Then I demo'd a Transition Smuggler and, well, nothing else mattered after that. I really wanted the dual wheel size capability, but decided the tradeoff for the performance of the Smuggler was worth it.
    Smuggler looks like a cool bike for sure. You say it's a great climber. Is that with the shock in Open? Everything around me is singletrack with ups and downs all mixed together, so flipping a shock mode isn't really an option unfortunately.

    And how do you feel about the steep seat angle? I got to spend some time on a Ripmo and as a group we all felt it was really cramped with the SA so high. And that was on a size bigger than I normally ride. I'd be interested in a Transition for the future if it pedals well in open and doesn't feel cramped like the Ripmo.

  17. #17
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    Re my comments above about flipping the shock switch on my Sight...

    I rode today with the switch in open mode the entire ride. Up, down and everything in between. Yup. Awesome. As it says on the Linkage Design blog site:

    Norco Sight Carbon 2018 - Linkage Design

    "As you can see in the table excel and graphs the above new Norco Sight have a system with a faultless pedaling efficiency, thanks to percentages Anti-squat about 100%...unlike what happened in the previous model...truth is that there is nothing to criticize..."

    No need to flip the shock switch if you don't care to.

    See also:



    I echo everything those guys said about that bike. There is nothing it doesn't kick ass at. Nothing I have found yet anyway.

    To the extent it matters, I was left with the impression that it was the Norco Sight, the Orbea Rallon, the Ibis Mojo HD4 and the Kona Process CR/DL that came out on top in the 2018 Bible of Bike tests. A summary of the Editors' Picks is as follows:

    Travis Engel - Process CR/DL 27.5.
    Nicole Formosa - Ibis Mojo HD4
    Ryan Palmer - Orbea Rallon (Norco Sight 29 - Honourable Mention)
    Mike Ferrentino - Orbea Rallon
    Jonathon Weber - Norco Sight 29 and 27.5 (Santa Cruz Nomad also mentioned)
    Kristin Butcher - Spot Mayhem and Ibis Mojo HD4
    Lacy Kemp - Norco Sight 27.5 ("clear winner"); Honourable mention to the Ibis Mojo HD4
    Will Ritchie - Evil Following MB (close runner up - Kona Process CR/DL 27.5)

    All that said, best to demo everything you can get your hands on. If you are able to demo the bikes all together in a short period of time, it will become apparent which one is the right one FOR YOU (as opposed to any of us, or any of the Bible of Bike editors).

    help deciding among Santa Cruz / Pivot / other?-img_9445.jpg

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrallen View Post
    Smuggler looks like a cool bike for sure. You say it's a great climber. Is that with the shock in Open? Everything around me is singletrack with ups and downs all mixed together, so flipping a shock mode isn't really an option unfortunately.

    And how do you feel about the steep seat angle? I got to spend some time on a Ripmo and as a group we all felt it was really cramped with the SA so high. And that was on a size bigger than I normally ride. I'd be interested in a Transition for the future if it pedals well in open and doesn't feel cramped like the Ripmo.
    The steep seat angle helps with the climbing; helps a lot, in fact, and seated, on the trail, it's also great. Steep climbing switchbacks, for example, are a non-event. May as well be a straight trail! Downhill, well, you're standing 99% of the time, anyway, so it doesn't matter much there. And it's so stable and ready to go, you just naturally push it.

    I always keep the shock and fork open when climbing on the trail. When climbing gravel roads, I sometimes put it in the "trail" position (middle), but it doesn't need it. I was worried that it was "just" a 4-bar system (Horst link), but whatever they've done with the SBG and "GiddyUp 2.0", it climbs very, very well.

    I'm just shy of 6' and ride a Large and while it feels a bit shorter than my old 429 (with a 120mm stem!), it's not cramped at all.

    The only complaints are the tight fit of the rear tire, so not much room for anything bigger and, for some, the Fox 34 fork. But for '19, they're putting the Fox 36 on it, so that one's gone.

    Like I said, I can unconditionally and whole-heartedly recommend this bike!

  19. #19
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    mtnbkrmike - I found a dealer nearly 200 miles away that told me they had a Sight Carbon 7.4, lowest-spec. So I drove out there, and it turns out it was a brand-new 2016 model. They've marked it down to $2300 from $3800 original retail. The parts spec was not at all what I'd want (it had a meh Revelation RL fork, 2x Deore drivetrain, and god-awful Acera brakes; here's a link to the Archive specs, https://www.norco.com/bike-archives/2016/sight-c74/ ). It was also a 650B, and I'm leaning hard toward a 29er. That said, I rode the thing anyway, and was surprised. They had a ridiculous hill behind the shop and the thing practically danced up (and then nearly killed me with fright coming down because the brakes were....not). So that particular one wouldn't be for me, but it still confirmed a lot of what you say of your Sight.

  20. #20
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    Thanks again, everyone, for your thoughts.

    All things considered, I'm leaning pretty strongly on the Hightower, especially given the discount the dealer is willing to take. I also really like the shop and it would be a perk to have a relationship with them. I'm going back today to see if I can persuade them to let me take it for a demo on some trails near the shop.

    Question about the SRAM Guide R brakes: really that bad? Should I ask for an XT or XTR swap/upgrade?

    I think that, if I do go for the HT, I'll hold off on a wheel upgrade for just long enough to impress my wife with how frugal I am, and then sneak a new set on sometime later

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by devback View Post
    mtnbkrmike - I found a dealer nearly 200 miles away that told me they had a Sight Carbon 7.4, lowest-spec. So I drove out there, and it turns out it was a brand-new 2016 model. They've marked it down to $2300 from $3800 original retail. The parts spec was not at all what I'd want (it had a meh Revelation RL fork, 2x Deore drivetrain, and god-awful Acera brakes; here's a link to the Archive specs, https://www.norco.com/bike-archives/2016/sight-c74/ ). It was also a 650B, and I'm leaning hard toward a 29er. That said, I rode the thing anyway, and was surprised. They had a ridiculous hill behind the shop and the thing practically danced up (and then nearly killed me with fright coming down because the brakes were....not). So that particular one wouldn't be for me, but it still confirmed a lot of what you say of your Sight.
    In my view, a 2018 C3 or C2 would be ideal for what you are looking for, and would meet or be close to your budget. The pre-2018 models had some weirdness going on with high anti-squat, which made them much more work on the technical climbs. I had a 2015 27.5 Range that also had the high anti-squat design that I got down to 27.5 lbs. My 2018 Sight is far superior in every respect, including on the downs. And yes - unless you need a smaller frame, I would definitely lean toward a 29er.

    EDIT: sorry OP. I didn't see your last post above, where it looks like you have landed on the HT. Congrats for whatever bike you end up with, and happy riding. They are all good.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbkrmike View Post
    In my view, a 2018 C3 or C2 would be ideal for what you are looking for, and would meet or be close to your budget. The pre-2018 models had some weirdness going on with high anti-squat, which made them much more work on the technical climbs. I had a 2015 27.5 Range that also had the high anti-squat design that I got down to 27.5 lbs. My 2018 Sight is far superior in every respect, including on the downs. And yes - unless you need a smaller frame, I would definitely lean toward a 29er.
    Cool, I'll keep looking around to see if I can find one. They seem to be damn near sold out! (Thanks for nothing, Bible of Bike...) I'm a little impatient, though, so I may grab the HT at least in the meantime, and then sell it in a year or two if I manage to try a Sight and prefer it.

    And yeah, 29er for sure. I'm 5'11, 160 lbs, and typically ride a large.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by devback View Post
    Cool, I'll keep looking around to see if I can find one. They seem to be damn near sold out! (Thanks for nothing, Bible of Bike...) I'm a little impatient, though, so I may grab the HT at least in the meantime, and then sell it in a year or two if I manage to try a Sight and prefer it.

    And yeah, 29er for sure. I'm 5'11, 160 lbs, and typically ride a large.
    I personally know the co-designer of the VPP linkage design. No shit. Former co-owner (with the other VPP co-designer) of Outland Bikes, back in the day. He rides a HT with a 160 fork and an 11-6 shock, as his go-to trail bike in my neck of the woods. He has countless bikes and that is his weapon of choice, so can't go wrong with it. Personally, I have never bonded with the VPP linkage design. Contrary to everyone else, I find it very firm on the downs. The 2018 HT I demoed was no exception. Maybe they are never set up optimally. I don't know. I have always leaned towards the plusher side of the spectrum. But again, that is all personal and I seem to be an outlier when it comes to my views on the VPP suspension design. It is widely embraced by the biking world at large.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiahh View Post
    The steep seat angle helps with the climbing; helps a lot, in fact, and seated, on the trail, it's also great. Steep climbing switchbacks, for example, are a non-event. May as well be a straight trail! Downhill, well, you're standing 99% of the time, anyway, so it doesn't matter much there. And it's so stable and ready to go, you just naturally push it.

    I always keep the shock and fork open when climbing on the trail. When climbing gravel roads, I sometimes put it in the "trail" position (middle), but it doesn't need it. I was worried that it was "just" a 4-bar system (Horst link), but whatever they've done with the SBG and "GiddyUp 2.0", it climbs very, very well.

    I'm just shy of 6' and ride a Large and while it feels a bit shorter than my old 429 (with a 120mm stem!), it's not cramped at all.

    The only complaints are the tight fit of the rear tire, so not much room for anything bigger and, for some, the Fox 34 fork. But for '19, they're putting the Fox 36 on it, so that one's gone.

    Like I said, I can unconditionally and whole-heartedly recommend this bike!
    Thanks for the feedback.

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    Quote Originally Posted by devback View Post
    Thanks again, everyone, for your thoughts.

    All things considered, I'm leaning pretty strongly on the Hightower, especially given the discount the dealer is willing to take. I also really like the shop and it would be a perk to have a relationship with them. I'm going back today to see if I can persuade them to let me take it for a demo on some trails near the shop.

    Question about the SRAM Guide R brakes: really that bad? Should I ask for an XT or XTR swap/upgrade?

    I think that, if I do go for the HT, I'll hold off on a wheel upgrade for just long enough to impress my wife with how frugal I am, and then sneak a new set on sometime later
    The guide R brakes aren't bad but the first batch of guide brakes had issues. My bike has guide rsc from early 2017 that needed a warranty rebuild from Sram but work great after the warranty issue.
    I much perfer guide brakes after getting used to them over XT but the R version lacks the easy lever adjustment. If for some reason you hate them XT brake sets aren't terribly expensive.

    Good luck w the HT some people love them and it's hard to beat SC warranty. I was tempted to go with a HT Lt just didn't care for the original HT even though it was at the travel I was initially looking for.

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    Hey OP, I went through the same process for same kind of bike about 6 months ago and rode a bunch of bikes and finally built a custom Rocky Mountain Instinct 140mm bike with a Fox 36 Grip2/DPX2 etc. Its unreal and climbs so damn well and is 29lbs in XL with DHF/DHR 2.5/2.4 and the big suspension. Fantastic. Geo is great too. Its a little longer in XL but not super long. Seat tube angle has me in the right spot on climbs without moving around a bunch. Ride9 stuff is actually nice and usable. I'm super happy with suspension too, in the Park (not double black stuff) and on the climbs. I got it because I wanted a bike that could climb close to a 120mm bike but have more forgiving/versatile travel. Most of our trails aren't ultra chunky but my kindergartner FLIES and races DH/Enduro stuff and we travel to other places etc. Its just not that hard to max out a 120mm bike without compromising things. Thankfully suspension is pretty good these days and big travel can climb now. I'm a tall guy at 6-4 so only modern geo works for me (Santa Cruz hadn't made the change yet).

    Here are my thoughts on the alternative bikes:

    Norco Sight: Love this bike. Love it. Its phenomenal. Does everything great and still fun. Very similar to my Instinct...but I settled on the Instinct as performance was really similar but the Instinct was a lot lighter and more versatile (I can run it as 155/60 Enduro sled that Malemed rides) which is great as I can't afford to go wrong and having choices is cool. I also got a deal on the Instinct frame.

    Hightower: Nice bike but kind of just bland at everything. I don't love the colors either (feel like SC went weird with colors last few yrs). Climbed great on smooth stuff but not amazing on technical stuff as VPP is really firm off the top. I didn't like that it was so firm on small bumps.
    Deeper into travel is pretty dope tho! Geo is flawed too that slack seat tube angle sucks and the front wheel lifted a lot. You might not think its a big deal until you ride a modern STA and just don't have to move around the bike much to keep the front down. Great on the tricky root corners. Also the reach sucked in the XL. Seated feel was fine tho and no where near as cramped as Yeti's. I've tried their XXL bikes they were massive so no go for me. Like driving a Lincoln.

    Switchblade: Awesome bike, did everything great but heavy and burly in ways I didn't need. Geo didn't suit me all that great as tall guy but not as bad at Hightower. Guys that killed it on this bike have it setup with X2 and AC3 coil conversion on the 36...it was like a 32lbs bike at that point. Frame is heavy and beefy (good for guys crushing it). I just didnt need all that and can still get similar performance on Instinct going down (bump fork to 150mm). SuperBoost is a thing you'd have to consider as well though its better now with a couple more bikes starting to use it. If I crack a wheel at the park on that bike, I'm pretty hosed for just grabbing a cheap wheel or borrowing one. Didn't need the extra stiffness anyways as I've got carbon boost asymetrical wheels. Also pedal strikes are a thing with this bike.

    Carbon Smuggler: Cool bike with interesting geo, especially for tall guy. Flawed bike tho. Only barely fits a 2.3 tire. That's ridiculous today. Tire versatility is the one thing that allows me to race in XC and then go and follow my kid down the bike park. When it gets wet out, having the extra forgiveness of bigger, meaty tires on the roots etc is a life saver. I'm no pro, so I want that forgiveness at certain times of the year. The world has been riding on 2.3 forever but its undeniable that bigger tires are great at times. Plus even with 2.3 the mud carnage would be rough as its tight back there. I also think these super long wheelbases (like Ripmo/Smuggler) have kind of jumped the shark for regular trail riding. There is a downside to that ultra long bike and I don't need the upside very often. Even in the park I don't want that long of a bike. FWIW Transitions have never been great climbers tho I think they did that part well with this bike.

    Yeti SB5.5: Beautiful but crappy geo. ULTRA low reach numbers. Too racy for me (sticks on the ground and not much pop (I don't race often). They don't make bikes for tall guys as they don't sell many and lose money on the XL sizes (so their sales reps said).

    Ripmo: Sounds awesome but too much bike for my needs and again with the super long bike thing. I didn't ride it.

    Ripley: Freaky small bike. Would never fit me properly. I'd be using a giant stem etc. There is a reason their new bike isn't this short anymore. If I was short and a great rider who could live with 120mm of travel like a Nate Hills, this would be an awesome bike tho. Fast and quick. DWLink is awesome.

    I've heard great things about the Intense Primer.

    Pic of my Instinct:
    help deciding among Santa Cruz / Pivot / other?-myinstinct.jpg

  27. #27
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    Wow. Great reviews. Thanks for taking the time to write all of that. For the bikes I demoed, your comments are spot on.

    That Instinct is incredible. I came sooooooo close to throwing down on the Instinct Carbon 70. I was shocked at the value of that bike. The component spec was rock solid, as was the price.

    In the end I chose the Sight to stay with my LBS of 20+ years. I would have been ecstatic with either.

  28. #28
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    There are so many choices! How do you decide unless you had them all lined up and could ride them back to back?
    I guess its a good problem to have but man it's going to take me forever to decide on where to plunk down 3-5k since I can only afford one bike at a time.

    Have any of you considered a YT Jeffsy 29 CF Pro/Pro Race?

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by svinyard View Post
    Hey OP, I went through the same process for same kind of bike about 6 months ago and rode a bunch of bikes and finally built a custom Rocky Mountain Instinct 140mm bike with a Fox 36 Grip2/DPX2 etc. Its unreal and climbs so damn well and is 29lbs in XL with DHF/DHR 2.5/2.4 and the big suspension. Fantastic. Geo is great too. Its a little longer in XL but not super long. Seat tube angle has me in the right spot on climbs without moving around a bunch. Ride9 stuff is actually nice and usable. I'm super happy with suspension too, in the Park (not double black stuff) and on the climbs. I got it because I wanted a bike that could climb close to a 120mm bike but have more forgiving/versatile travel. Most of our trails aren't ultra chunky but my kindergartner FLIES and races DH/Enduro stuff and we travel to other places etc. Its just not that hard to max out a 120mm bike without compromising things. Thankfully suspension is pretty good these days and big travel can climb now. I'm a tall guy at 6-4 so only modern geo works for me (Santa Cruz hadn't made the change yet).

    Here are my thoughts on the alternative bikes:

    Norco Sight: Love this bike. Love it. Its phenomenal. Does everything great and still fun. Very similar to my Instinct...but I settled on the Instinct as performance was really similar but the Instinct was a lot lighter and more versatile (I can run it as 155/60 Enduro sled that Malemed rides) which is great as I can't afford to go wrong and having choices is cool. I also got a deal on the Instinct frame.

    Hightower: Nice bike but kind of just bland at everything. I don't love the colors either (feel like SC went weird with colors last few yrs). Climbed great on smooth stuff but not amazing on technical stuff as VPP is really firm off the top. I didn't like that it was so firm on small bumps.
    Deeper into travel is pretty dope tho! Geo is flawed too that slack seat tube angle sucks and the front wheel lifted a lot. You might not think its a big deal until you ride a modern STA and just don't have to move around the bike much to keep the front down. Great on the tricky root corners. Also the reach sucked in the XL. Seated feel was fine tho and no where near as cramped as Yeti's. I've tried their XXL bikes they were massive so no go for me. Like driving a Lincoln.

    Switchblade: Awesome bike, did everything great but heavy and burly in ways I didn't need. Geo didn't suit me all that great as tall guy but not as bad at Hightower. Guys that killed it on this bike have it setup with X2 and AC3 coil conversion on the 36...it was like a 32lbs bike at that point. Frame is heavy and beefy (good for guys crushing it). I just didnt need all that and can still get similar performance on Instinct going down (bump fork to 150mm). SuperBoost is a thing you'd have to consider as well though its better now with a couple more bikes starting to use it. If I crack a wheel at the park on that bike, I'm pretty hosed for just grabbing a cheap wheel or borrowing one. Didn't need the extra stiffness anyways as I've got carbon boost asymetrical wheels. Also pedal strikes are a thing with this bike.

    Carbon Smuggler: Cool bike with interesting geo, especially for tall guy. Flawed bike tho. Only barely fits a 2.3 tire. That's ridiculous today. Tire versatility is the one thing that allows me to race in XC and then go and follow my kid down the bike park. When it gets wet out, having the extra forgiveness of bigger, meaty tires on the roots etc is a life saver. I'm no pro, so I want that forgiveness at certain times of the year. The world has been riding on 2.3 forever but its undeniable that bigger tires are great at times. Plus even with 2.3 the mud carnage would be rough as its tight back there. I also think these super long wheelbases (like Ripmo/Smuggler) have kind of jumped the shark for regular trail riding. There is a downside to that ultra long bike and I don't need the upside very often. Even in the park I don't want that long of a bike. FWIW Transitions have never been great climbers tho I think they did that part well with this bike.

    Yeti SB5.5: Beautiful but crappy geo. ULTRA low reach numbers. Too racy for me (sticks on the ground and not much pop (I don't race often). They don't make bikes for tall guys as they don't sell many and lose money on the XL sizes (so their sales reps said).

    Ripmo: Sounds awesome but too much bike for my needs and again with the super long bike thing. I didn't ride it.

    Ripley: Freaky small bike. Would never fit me properly. I'd be using a giant stem etc. There is a reason their new bike isn't this short anymore. If I was short and a great rider who could live with 120mm of travel like a Nate Hills, this would be an awesome bike tho. Fast and quick. DWLink is awesome.

    I've heard great things about the Intense Primer.

    Pic of my Instinct:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	MyInstinct.jpg 
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ID:	1212196


    l just drove a couple hours to stand over a Ripmo and test out there at the shop and the bike seems good but haven't rode a 29er before and trying to determine as a big guy (6ft, 270) i'd a big long bike like this is what l need.

    l rode a medium and l have 31 inch inseams.short legs l know but felt a little cramped with a 55mm stem. l would think a large would be best but l wouldn't be able to stand flat footed without the top tube crushing my "fellas" down there.

    Anyone suggest another bike with a lil higher top tube? l'd love to try a Norco Sight, Rocky Mountain BC Edition, or Rallon however no dealers in my state or very far.

  30. #30
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    Never rode a Pivot that I didnít like.

    Never rode a Santa Cruz I did like.

    If you could narrow down what aspect of each bike you like, you might find a pattern.

    Iíd get a Pivot, Trail 429 if thatís your style, Switchblade in aluminum is a broad spectrum bike at a fair price, or get a big bike like the Ripmo.

    Any bike can be made to ride well, tires, suspension, cockpit. That said, some bikes do have magic
    Lrg GG Pedalhead 29/27+
    XMed GG Smash 29/27+
    Lrg Devinci Hendrix 27+ (Loaner)
    Pivot Shuttle 27+ (wife)

  31. #31
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    And now Yeti released the 150- 29er. They also are offering lifetime warranty on their frames. It's a buffet out there folks, choices...

  32. #32
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    I have a Switchblade after demoing several other brands comparable bikes. None were better and I love the lateral stiffness of the rear super boost wheels. Go Pivot you'll love it.

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