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  1. #1
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    I need advise...looking for a good climbing FS

    I need help....I am 54 5'10/175 and currently ride a HT in N. Ga. The riding I do around here can be short punchy hills with rocks and roots to extended climbs. I will get the bike in the air but nothing crazy. As for the DH I an not bombing any rock gardens.

    So with that in mind, I need some guidance on a FS that climbs well. I would like to keep it at $3k or under new or used. I have been reading about the 16 Fuel EX8 but the 31 lbs concerns me.

    Any help is greatly appreciated.


    Hardmix

  2. #2
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    Ibis Ripley LS. Climbs like a scalded cat. Handles likes a Porsche.


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  3. #3
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    It depends what you mean by climbs well. Firm suspension like a hardtail, good pedaling that grips like velcro, front end stays down no matter what?
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bickle View Post
    It depends what you mean by climbs well. Firm suspension like a hardtail, good pedaling that grips like velcro, front end stays down no matter what?
    Good questions Travis. I have very limited experience on bikes other than my HT. I can tell you my preference is to stand and hammer hills whenever possible. When climbing seated I have never had to deal with a front end coming up, except on my KTM! I think that issue could be resolved by a slight weight shift if its not too bad.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hardmix View Post
    Good questions Travis. I have very limited experience on bikes other than my HT. I can tell you my preference is to stand and hammer hills whenever possible. When climbing seated I have never had to deal with a front end coming up, except on my KTM! I think that issue could be resolved by a slight weight shift if its not too bad.
    Is the KTM front end too light? Name:  798100-cs0.jpg
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by armii View Post
    Is the KTM front end too light? Name:  798100-cs0.jpg
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    I was referring to my 300 2 stroke.

  7. #7
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    Check out the Intense Primer. You can find pretty good deals on them even on the own intense sight for around 3000 brand new shipped with warranty. Great geometry, light weight, stiff frame. They are a great trail bike, comparable to something like the Ibis Ripley but nowadays at a much better price.
    Also, you can check out YT Industries and their Jeffsy trail bike in 29er form. They have an aluminum model that is under 3000 and comes in at or under 30 pounds too. Bike climbs great and can handle some rowdy trails.

  8. #8
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    The Primer looks like a great bike that you can upgrade components to lighten up in the future, if desired. Once concern for me is the 140mm fork, I think thats too much for what I am riding.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hardmix View Post
    The Primer looks like a great bike that you can upgrade components to lighten up in the future, if desired. Once concern for me is the 140mm fork, I think thats too much for what I am riding.
    Check out the new Intense Sniper Trail. 120/120

  10. #10
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    Santa Cruz Tallboy is a fun ride that will not be too much bike, but rarely not enough bike. It is hard to beat the Fuel EX though. Great all-arounder. I would throw the new Kona Satori into the mix too. The Hei Hei Trail is one of the more fun bikes I've demoed but I like 29ers. The Satori fixes that.

  11. #11
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    The best climbing bike I've ridden is my Pivot Mach 429SL. The DW Link just works so well.

  12. #12
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    If you only want 120mm of travel, the Ibis Ripley and Pivot 429 Bikes are by far the standard bearers. Now they are not build for taller folks but you fit right into their sweet spot for a large I'm guessing off hand. Buy one of those, get some carbon hoops and fly. You don't have too look at any of the other bikes unless you want to take a step down in price. Fwiw I think the 429 might climb better a little bit better but from what I've heard the Ripley is a funner ride. That is coming from Outdoorgearlabs labs time trial tests tho not my own. Both bikes use the renown DWLink.

  13. #13
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    Curious why the Tallboy isn't getting more love? it seems in the realm of most bikes mentioned. Is it too much of an all-arounder?

  14. #14
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    If you care to bypass this glut of Asian swag, check out Guerrilla Gravity bikes. Steep seat tube and small bump/square edge compliance with a coil shock/Plush mode makes for eye-opening climbing performance Ė better than the bikes' weight and DH performance might suggest. My Smash is every bit the climber as my previous 27-lb plastic bike. MSRP under 3k for entry builds. You're my size, will fit a M. There's a BAMF in Chattanooga and perhaps others that will let you toss a leg over. Check the GG subforum. Cheers...

  15. #15
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    I can vouch for the Mach 429 Trail, it is an excellent climber and a capable descender. Had a quick look on PB BuySell and found this one for under 3k: https://www.pinkbike.com/buysell/2327196/

    The Intense Primer is also a relatively good climber and can be had for 3k: https://intensecycles.com/collection...undation-build

    Like others have mentioned, the Ripley LS, Intense Sniper Trail and SC Tallboy carbon also pedal well, but I could not find one for under 3k. Guerrilla Gravity's Trail Pistol might also be worth a look, but their sub-3k build is heavy and I cannot vouch for its peddling efficiency.

    Edit: You can get the Tallboy Alu for under 3k, but the build is on the heavier side. Finally, the YT Jeffsy might be worth a look. Good spec for under 3k. It's a lot of bikes to look at, so I would prioritize seeing if you can get a used Mach 429T, Ripley LS, or Primer. If you can't get any of those, then a new alloy Tallboy, Jeffsy, or Trail Pistol would be best.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by Phoenix864; 03-14-2018 at 11:05 AM.

  16. #16
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    I tested a Fuel EX last weekend on trails that I normally ride my HT 29er on and was very surprised that I didn't feel the weight difference, 6-7 lbs, and actually had some PR's going uphill. For the price you are looking at it would be hard to beat, though I am very interested in the Primer and the new Sniper Trail, which I think would be ideal for me and my terrain in AL.

  17. #17
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    As you can tell by responses is that best climbing bike is very subjective. Too many variables.


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  18. #18
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    I had a chance to demo the Hightower, Tallboy, Ripley, and Primer. The trails I ride out west have punchy climbs, long climbs, and switchbacks. Rocks, but not roots. I'm about the same size as you. I found the Primer and Ripley to be the best climbers for me. The Ripley felt a little more playful, but the Primer just felt 'right' so that is my bike. I'd be surprised if you found 140mm too much travel, and at least on the '17 model you can completely lock out the suspension on long, non-technical climbs. All the bikes listed are great, and try to get a bike fitting if you can. On the Ripley and Primer the front wheel was lifting on climbs, but after getting both bikes fit properly the problem disappeared.

  19. #19
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    Name:  1187193d1520875127-i-need-advise-looking-good-climbing-fs-798100-cs0.jpg
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    Phishing attack at that web site, eh?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hardmix View Post
    So with that in mind, I need some guidance on a FS that climbs well. I would like to keep it at $3k or under new or used. I have been reading about the 16 Fuel EX8 but the 31 lbs concerns me.
    Hardmix
    I'm $2,400 into my 2016 Fuel EX8, she's 28lbs ready to ride. I'm probably pedals, saddle, and tires away from 27lbs.

    I need advise...looking for a good climbing FS-img_1177.jpg

  21. #21
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    Thank you all for the replies, I really appreciate the help.

    So I demoed a Fuel ex8 today. Unfortunately when I picked it up the 18.5 frame was damaged so they gave me a 17.5 at no charge. While it was not ideal I figure I would give it a try.

    I took the bike to Charleston Trail that is a 5 mile trail that is loaded with short punchy hill climbs with LARGE roots that in some cases almost feel like step ups. As for how it climbs, I thought the bike performed better than expected for a 31lbs. That said, I think my power delivery might be more efficient on a bike that fits better. How much more I donít know.

    I played with shock and fork settings to see how much latitude they gave. On the longer climbs the firm setting really helped but who wants to stop and make adjustments. For most of the ride I left the rear in medium and the front open. On the descents I targeted large roots and mid size rocks. I have to say, I was impressed with how well the suspension performed.

    So all in all, I was impressed with the Fuel ex8 even if it was a bit cramped. Keep in mind, this is the first FS I have ridden so itís a case of....you donít know what you donít know! I am going to try and demo a pivot next.

    Thanks again for all the great suggestions.

  22. #22
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    I would recommend a Scott Spark for what you are going to use it for. It is probably the best climbing fs on the market right now. I own a ripley, and I would not recommend the ripley if you don't want a super short bike. The pivot is even shorter.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrPaulus View Post
    I would recommend a Scott Spark for what you are going to use it for. It is probably the best climbing fs on the market right now. I own a ripley, and I would not recommend the ripley if you don't want a super short bike. The pivot is even shorter.
    The anti-squat on the spark isn't really all that high, starting at about 89% at the beginning of travel and ending up around 77%. Ideally, you are a little over 100% for a majority of the travel, which Intense, Yeti, Pivot, Turner, Santa Cruz, and others have achieved. Likewise, there are some single pivots (but not Scott) that have right around 100% maybe plus or minus a few % points, like the Scalpel, which decreases to about 95% halfway through the travel.

    On the flip-side, the Scott is light and doesn't have much travel, which tends to minimize the poor pedaling characteristics, but I think having the AS of something like the other bikes described above really contributes to the "acceleration" fell, where you jam on the pedals and you instantly go forward, rather than bogging.

    Looking at the % of AS from zero travel to about 1/2 to 2/3rds of the travel is going to give you a good indication of how the bike pedals and climbs. If you have say around 150% AS, it's going to be getting suspension-induced feedback while pedaling and that's going to cause some loss-of-traction and harshness issue, but if its around 100-120% and slightly deceasing, this is pretty much a non-issue. Starting out around 120% and steeply falling to 80% or less mid-travel will be spongy-sluggish as you pedal up steep stuff, especially in the rough.

    Then you can look at the geometry factors to see what you like best.

    Unless you are a world cup racer, a pound of frame-weight isn't going to make any noticeable difference.

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  24. #24
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    Where can we see these anti-squat numbers? Also, how do they correlate to small bump sensitivity?

    Fwiw it's worth I'm looking at a RM Instinct (newer ones with more AS). I don't think it's AS is 100% (tho maybe now with 140mm) but it Def out pedaled the other bikes I demoed, mainly the Santa Cruz HT. Similar on the smooth climbs but Def better on technical climbs. I felt like the high anti squat on the HT and the VPP design firmed it up so much that yeah it was good on the smooth stuff but bucked me on the small bumps and technical stuff in climbs making for a less than ideal climbs.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    The anti-squat on the spark isn't really all that high, starting at about 89% at the beginning of travel and ending up around 77%. Ideally, you are a little over 100% for a maj....

    Linkage Design

    I don't know anything about this AS, AR or what ever it's called. The Spark may be crap on paper, but it's still probably the best climbing fs bike you can buy right now. You don't have to take my word for it, just read a couple of reviews and they will probably tell you the same thing.

    The Spark has the same travel as most of the bikes recommended in this tread. And it does not have poor pedalling characteristics. I personally think it climbs about as good as the Ripley fully open, and the Spark has the twin loc that makes it a better climber since I am too lazy to lock out the suspension on the Ripley. And I think the longer reach of the Spark also helps on climbs.

    But yeah, if you want a short bike with efficient suspension, the Ripley should be right at the top of the list. It is a good bike.

  26. #26
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    The Spark I rode did have quite noticeable pedal bob but very good climbing traction.

  27. #27
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    Another nod to the 429. A full suspension bike with a good design does not need a lockout as a crutch (see: Scott spark), in fact climbing with a good suspension is more efficient than a hardtail for most trails. I think it's just as important to have the suspension while climbing as well as descending, it provides better grip and allows for smoother pedaling while still letting you stand and hammer without any negative feedback.

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  28. #28
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    Had a trek fuel ex 8 and now a Ripley LS. I had to size up for the Ripley and I love it. Quite a bit faster than my trek...Iím a believer in DW link now


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    2017 Ibis Ripley LS Factory X01

  29. #29
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    Man, imagine if they made a Ripley in 130 or 140mm travel. It'd be the ultimate bike, the sizing is dumb tho. They just made bikes with slight adjustments and mislabeled the size. It's fine for those who can size up and BS for those like myself (6-4) who can't.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrPaulus View Post
    I don't know anything about this AS, AR or what ever it's called. The Spark may be crap on paper, but it's still probably the best climbing fs bike you can buy right now. You don't have to take my word for it, just read a couple of reviews and they will probably tell you the same thing.
    The way the pros ride it is with the lever-mounted lockout, keep it locked out for most climbs and flats, then open for descents. At the highest levels, this is important, but for most of us mortals, we are better off with a design that can remain complaint AND pedal well, even racing cat 1. I'm almost 40 and can't take the pounding of lockout or hardtails at race-speed on rough terrain. And it's not that the Spark pedals bad, it's just that you can do a bit better.
    "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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  31. #31
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    There is a Pivot demo here in Atlanta next weekend. It is being held at Big Creek which is very rocky. I am looking forward to trying out the 429 Trail.

  32. #32
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    Yeti 4.5

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hardmix View Post
    There is a Pivot demo here in Atlanta next weekend. It is being held at Big Creek which is very rocky. I am looking forward to trying out the 429 Trail.
    Cool, be aware people tend to build the 429Trail fairly heavier. It's a nice light frame and with a 120mm fork can make a decent endurance racer, you can definitely put lighter parts on there, but many tend to put super wider rims and tires and hang stuff on there that makes the weight balloon way up. 23lbs-24lbs is realistic for reasonable XC racing build.
    "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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  34. #34
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  35. #35
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    Yeti and Pivot are great bikes, at the fast racy end of the spectrum. For me they don't ride or feel right, but have a few friends that love them (the ones I can't keep up with, no matter what bike I'm on). If, like me, you prefer the more poppy fun end of the spectrum, try to demo a Giant Trance or an Evil Following.

    Blue Mountain is an Evil dealer. https://www.bluemountainbikes.com/
    That is where I got my Evil.

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