Need help picking out a new bike- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Smile Need help picking out a new bike

    Hey guys! I currently have a 2018 Niner Jet 9 aluminum (NX-1 build) and even though I have enjoyed the bike I want something with more "pop". The bike is fast, but it lacks character and seems to mute the trail too much for my liking. For all out fun I use my Chromag Stylus, but would like a 29er that is more playful instead of a jet you strap yourself to.
    I'm on the east coast (just moved to NC from Virginia) and I'm set on less than 140mm travel. I mostly ride flowy trails with some techy sections. I used to ride in Roanoke and Pocahontas, now that I'm in NC I'll try to hit up Pisgah every so often, so the bike has to be able to handle that.
    I've only demoed a Hightower LT and honestly didn't like the fit. Looking at Guerilla Gravity Trail Pistol, Transition Smuggler, Ibis Ripley, YT Jeffsy, EVIL Offering. I'll take any other suggestions or input. For reference I'm 6', 195lbs, 32in inseam and I have no idea what my wingspan is...

    This is also my first post

  2. #2
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    Welcome to the forum.

    I am far from an expert on these bikes. Of the bikes you've mentioned, I've ridden the Santa Cruz, Evil, and YT. Looking at the geometry charts for the bike you own vs. what you're proposing, all of the ones I looked at appear to be more slack, have similar chainstay length, and generally more aggressive specs than the bike you're currently riding, with the exception of the Trail Pistol with its 426mm chainstays (-9mm from where you're at now). I haven't ridden the Niner you're riding (I don't think, I might have demoed it last year), but it really looks to me from specs that 1) you're looking at generally rowdier bikes than you already have and 2) you might be better off dialing in your suspension on the Niner than looking at bikes that few would regard as "poppy."

    Fit or not, nobody would regard the Hightower LT as "poppy." I rode the Megatower earlier this month and while I didn't dislike it, I would definitely regard it as more plush. It'd take some significant gravity and confidence to use that to its full potential; in conventional trail riding it would definitely feel sluggish to me.

    Just another thought--could you be on the wrong size bike?

  3. #3
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    Appreciate the input. I have thought about the sizing and sometimes I think the reach numbers on my Niner are a bit short, but the seat tube and stack height feel spot on. I'm on a Large frame. I've also thought about upgrading the shock, but I'm not quite sure how much of a difference that would make.

    I think I would like to be around the 66* head angle and rowdier isn't necessarily a bad thing for me. Reason I mentioned my other bike is a Chromag Stylus is cause I would like something that feels a bit closer to that, but will lend itself for longer rides. Hopefully that's a good enough explanation. I also don't have access to demo that many bikes in my area. I have to drive 4 hrs to get to Asheville in order to demo "boutique" bikes.

  4. #4
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    I demoed the Offering a few days ago, solid hour on decent trails (switchbacks, steeps, technical) and the thing put a smile on my face like nothing else. Popped around like no tomorrow. I tried a couple other bikes (Pivot, SC) and nothing compared. iím 5í11, 205. That said, for whatever reason I couldnít get comfortable. cockpit just felt too cramped the more i rode. Tough to gauge on a demo, i should have moved the seat back or something, little i could do with stem, so those are caveats to my opinion. Loved everything about it. Iím an intermediate rider getting back into the sport so take my view with a grain of salt!

  5. #5
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    The last demo event I went to involved a 9 hour drive. 4 hours would be a dream.

    I would spend your time and effort getting your suspension dialed, proper pressures, volume spacers, and settings, before thinking you need a new bike. A single degree of head angle and the tiny change in wheelbase will not make the difference you are looking for. What tires are you running? Try some different ones and that'll make more difference.

    I bet I couldn't tell the difference between any of the bikes you're looking at in a blind test. At best I'd notice minor differences in fit.
    Last edited by twodownzero; 05-31-2019 at 11:05 AM.

  6. #6
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    From why you are saying about your needs, you really need to take a hard look at a Spot Mayhem. I bought one sight unseen and I am so glad I did! 130mm (I upgraded mine to 140mm) up front and 130mm in the rear. Itís poppy and the Living Link provides an insane pedal platform with no pedal bob. Climbs like a mountain goat and descends confidently. Amazing customer service and such a high quality bike for the cost. I ride my Mayhem in the gnarly central PA mountains and it is just why I needed. Great in the chunk and great in the flowy stuff too! I know the Spot name is not huge but they are just doing something right! PM me if you have any questions and best of luck.

  7. #7
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    I've tried one and two volume spacers, as well as playing around with the pressure. I'm running DHF 2.5 front and Agressor 2.3 rear. I have lost a bit of weight from the last time I played around with the suspension so maybe I should try that again. And I get what you are saying, a degree is no reason to get a new bike. I just feel like I've tried so many things to get what I want out of it. I will say this all started after my riding style changed. I used to be very conservative with my riding and loved the speed. Now I search for anything that will give me a bit of air and spend lots of time sessioning spots just for fun.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeJordan View Post
    From why you are saying about your needs, you really need to take a hard look at a Spot Mayhem.
    Didn't even know about that brand! That's a sexy looking bike. Did you demo any other bikes? How does it compare to anything else you've ridden?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ribbs76 View Post
    I demoed the Offering a few days ago, solid hour on decent trails (switchbacks, steeps, technical) and the thing put a smile on my face like nothing else. Popped around like no tomorrow. I tried a couple other bikes (Pivot, SC) and nothing compared. iím 5í11, 205. That said, for whatever reason I couldnít get comfortable. cockpit just felt too cramped the more i rode. Tough to gauge on a demo, i should have moved the seat back or something, little i could do with stem, so those are caveats to my opinion. Loved everything about it. Iím an intermediate rider getting back into the sport so take my view with a grain of salt!
    I'd rather get input from normal riders than professional riders cause I'm by no means close to their riding abilities. What size frame did you ride? What bike felt more comfortable to you?

  10. #10
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    i rode large size in all three- SC hightower, Pivot Trail 429 and the Evil. I just posted here https://forums.mtbr.com/bike-frame-d...-new-post.html

    to try and help me understand the Offering better. It was so fun, yet I didnít like constantly shifting around the saddle as much as compared to the others.

    Pivot was very comfortable, Hightower felt more solid/aggressive
    Last edited by ribbs76; 05-31-2019 at 06:06 PM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by GabeF View Post
    I have to drive 4 hrs to get to Asheville in order to demo "boutique" bikes.
    You may not have to. Watch for demo events. YT has a demo truck floating around the east coast. I did see them in Brevard a couple weeks ago, but there's a chance it'll go somewhere easier for you to reach.

    Also, Cane Creek is running a demo truck that's got a bunch of Guerrilla Gravity bikes on it (of course kitted out with Cane Creek suspension). I also saw them in Brevard, but I know that they've been making the rounds all over the region, too. For that matter, GG keeps a network of BAMFs who help potential riders demo bikes, and you can see if anyone is closer to you on their website. I found a guy in Charlotte here on mtbr (who is not a BAMF) who let me check out his Pedalhead, and I ended up buying his frame a couple months later.

    I'm not sure about Transition, Ibis, and Evil demos. I know all 3 companies occasionally run them in the Pisgah area, so it's certainly possible they could show up closer to you.

    FWIW, your Chomag Stylus would be a rad bike for Pisgah, too. I'm having a great time riding my Pedalhead around here. There actually are a number of people rocking steel AM hardtails here. And for that matter, some who kill it on xc rigid singlespeeds, too.

  12. #12
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    I demoed a Yeti sb130, Cannondale Habit, Trek Remedy, Specialized Stumpy, and a Santa Cruz Hightower. Habit was way too plush for my liking, Fuel Ex felt pretty plush too and same for Hightower. Almost bought the Yeti until I saw the Spot Mayhem and talked to Paul McClain and their team. I also messaged Steve at Hardtail Party and he has the most no nonsense review and he was dead on. Itís an amazing bike. I am not a great rider but the bike is pushing me harder and I am a more confident rider. I am 170 lbs and 5í11Ē and have a 32Ē inseam and the large frame is perfect for me. The frame is robust and if you are a weight weenie, this may not be the frame for you as it is a little heavier than some others but they didnít cheap out and go too thin in critical areas of the frames support. I bought a 5 Star build in black and upgraded a few things. I find myself trying to fit in a ride whenever I can, never coming home and feeling completely wiped out cause the bike beat me up, but the bike also allows you to feel what you are riding over and doesnít numb the trail. Canít describe it but there is just something special about the bike.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeJordan View Post
    From why you are saying about your needs, you really need to take a hard look at a Spot Mayhem. I bought one sight unseen and I am so glad I did! 130mm (I upgraded mine to 140mm) up front and 130mm in the rear. Itís poppy and the Living Link provides an insane pedal platform with no pedal bob. Climbs like a mountain goat and descends confidently. Amazing customer service and such a high quality bike for the cost. I ride my Mayhem in the gnarly central PA mountains and it is just why I needed. Great in the chunk and great in the flowy stuff too! I know the Spot name is not huge but they are just doing something right! PM me if you have any questions and best of luck.
    Amazing customer service? You mean like blaming Alex Bowers for their rear triangle design after the triangle contacted the seat tube and broke the frame? And coming on youtube and leaving a bunch of nasty comments? Customer service indeed.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by GabeF View Post
    Looking at Guerilla Gravity Trail Pistol, Transition Smuggler, Ibis Ripley, YT Jeffsy, EVIL Offering. I'll take any other suggestions or input. For reference I'm 6', 195lbs, 32in inseam and I have no idea what my wingspan is...
    I am 6'1 with a 33" inseam, so not far off of your measurements. We also happen to ride much different terrain, as I live in the Pacific Northwest and ride a lot of uber steep and technical trails where a long wheelbase and slack head angle are very much appreciated. I should also give a disclaimer that I'm biased towards Transition given that I currently ride a Transition Sentinel which I love.

    All that being said, I think you'd be really pleased with the Transition Smuggler for what you're describing. I'm a big proponent of buying a bike for the terrain that you'll be riding most of the time versus buying one bike to rule them all, and I think that you're right on the money for buying a shorter travel bike based on where you'll be riding. The Smuggler is short travel, but still quite slack for the travel and also quite long. There are a lot of guys here riding them on some pretty brutal terrain, and the bikes seem to handle it fine - it's not an enduro bike, but it's much more bike than the rear travel would suggest.

    The Trail Pistol is supposed to be a rad bike and very fast, but you'll likely be waiting for a little bit to get one given the demand that GG is seeing for their new frames. That bike and the Smuggler are most similar to one another in that they are short travel bikes designed to be super playful and capable on descents, with the Ibis being a more efficiency-minded version of that philosophy.

    The Evil is a "bigger" bike than the others in your list, and my friend's YT Jeffsy failed to impress me...it pedals incredibly well, but never felt particularly stable or confident. It may have been that it wasn't properly set up for me, but I've had an easier time jumping on other bikes and having a good time.

    Not to confound your decision, but I'd also suggest looking at the Commencal Meta TR 29...those bikes win awards all the time, are well priced yet well built, and based on my friend's experience with his Meta AM 29, absolutely shred.

  15. #15
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    I can second the Spot Mayhem recommendation. Just got one and I can't say enough about it. I'm the same measurements as you and the large fits perfect. I got it from a mobile bike mechanic who didn't ride it enough so he sold it. He did do some of his own upgrades. The travel is still the same, and build is comparable to their 5 star build. I can't tell you how it feels on long down hills ( I live in flat Florida ) but on flowy cross country trails with technical thrown in, this bike hauls @$$! From all the research I did on it prior to laying hands on it, there was no way I wasn't going to buy this bike. I did how ever get a great deal.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by zhendo View Post
    I am 6'1 with a 33" inseam, so not far off of your measurements. We also happen to ride much different terrain, as I live in the Pacific Northwest and ride a lot of uber steep and technical trails where a long wheelbase and slack head angle are very much appreciated. I should also give a disclaimer that I'm biased towards Transition given that I currently ride a Transition Sentinel which I love.

    All that being said, I think you'd be really pleased with the Transition Smuggler for what you're describing. I'm a big proponent of buying a bike for the terrain that you'll be riding most of the time versus buying one bike to rule them all, and I think that you're right on the money for buying a shorter travel bike based on where you'll be riding. The Smuggler is short travel, but still quite slack for the travel and also quite long. There are a lot of guys here riding them on some pretty brutal terrain, and the bikes seem to handle it fine - it's not an enduro bike, but it's much more bike than the rear travel would suggest.

    The Trail Pistol is supposed to be a rad bike and very fast, but you'll likely be waiting for a little bit to get one given the demand that GG is seeing for their new frames. That bike and the Smuggler are most similar to one another in that they are short travel bikes designed to be super playful and capable on descents, with the Ibis being a more efficiency-minded version of that philosophy.

    The Evil is a "bigger" bike than the others in your list, and my friend's YT Jeffsy failed to impress me...it pedals incredibly well, but never felt particularly stable or confident. It may have been that it wasn't properly set up for me, but I've had an easier time jumping on other bikes and having a good time.

    Not to confound your decision, but I'd also suggest looking at the Commencal Meta TR 29...those bikes win awards all the time, are well priced yet well built, and based on my friend's experience with his Meta AM 29, absolutely shred.
    Thank you so much for such a detailed response. I've been leaning towards the GG and Transition, but I'll be doing everything I can to demo one before I make a decision. And I agree, I have no need for a full enduro bike. I'm just trying to get a bike that allows me to throw it around, pops and pedals well. I'm not trying to break records, but I don't want a bike that will hold me down on the ups. A lot of the trails around here have short-ish punchy climbs and going for the climb switch isn't an option for me.

    The Commencal has a great spec for the price! I also have a buddy that rides the Meta HT so I know they're sturdy bikes. Now I definitely have another bike to think about lol Thanks for all the info

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