What's the ideal "Sea to Sky" 29er for BC's steep climbs and descents- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    What's the ideal "Sea to Sky" 29er for BC's steep climbs and descents

    As the title says, I'm in the market for a 29er. I live in the Sea to Sky area and regularly ride Squamish/Whistler/Pemberton/North Shore trails.

    I want something that's going to be confidence inspiring on some of the steep jank around me, but not be too much of a handful to pedal. (For example, some of my favorite trails involve an hour of steep fire road climbing followed by tight singletrack before the descent).

    To give you some reference, some of my favourite trails are things like Rusty Trombone and Creampuff in Pemberton, Howler and Out There in Whistler, and Boney Elbows / Entrails in Squamish.

    I definitely prioritize descending above climbing. However, I don't want to kill myself getting up.

    Bikes I've demoed thus far:

    - SC Hightower 2020
    - Kona Process 153
    - Ibis Ripmo
    - Transition Sentinel

    All have been good bikes in their own way, but there are some annoyances.

    The hightower's geo feels good, but I worry the suspension is a little on the short side. Climbed well, but maybe a bit nervous on the descents. Might not be the best bike to take in to a big lap down Kashmir/Kush off the bike park.

    I wasn't a huge fan of the Process' build kit. Also at 5'9'' I'm kind of in no man's land for sizing. The medium is a bit smaller than I'd like and the large is a bit too big.

    The Ripmo felt awesome, but it's HARD finding Ibis in BC. The only store is in West Vancouver, and their prices are absolutely insane. They bumped the Ripmo up nearly 600 bucks since my demo - despite it being the same build kit. Call me crazy, but I'd rather not deal with them in the event of a warranty or servicing.

    The Sentinel felt great descending, but definitely took some extra energy to get climbing. I'm concerned it might be too much of a pig for big days (Say 2000+ meters of climbing). I really like my local Transition dealer though.. And the build kits seem to have some great value.

    I'm wondering if anyone else has experience with these bikes and can weigh in. Maybe there are other models worth considering?

  2. #2
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    Short travel 29er with long and slack geo.

    A bike that has a slack HTA, steepish STA, short but supportive travel, lightweight but durable.

    Bikes that come to mind:

    Kona Process 134
    GG Trail Pistol/Pistola
    Fuel EX
    Ibis Ripley 4

    But the bikes you listed are really more in the mid travel range, so you might be asking a lot if you want a climber from a bike with that much travel and heft.

    I'm thinking you're gonna need to prioritize differently or take a hit on climbing.

    I'm not a Ripmo fan, but if you liked it then get it; there's a new aluminum version for less $$$.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Natazhat View Post
    The Ripmo felt awesome, but it's HARD finding Ibis in BC. The only store is in West Vancouver, and their prices are absolutely insane. They bumped the Ripmo up nearly 600 bucks since my demo - despite it being the same build kit. Call me crazy, but I'd rather not deal with them in the event of a warranty or servicing.
    A friend of mine owns a shop in Chilliwack that just picked up Ibis, go check out jacks cycle and ask for Daniel.

  4. #4
    i'm schralping yer thread
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    You tried out a Knolly Fugitive yet? Climbs great and you'd be riding it in its native environment.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeePhroh View Post
    You tried out a Knolly Fugitive yet? Climbs great and you'd be riding it in its native environment.
    If by "climbs great" you mean "climbs worse than many top tier bikes", then yes.


    This graph is plotted against other horst link bikes and some others that are not particularly good climbers, looking at SC, intense, yeti and others that have ~100% AS at about half travel, this knolly is significantly worse.

    Nothing around 6" is going to pedal super great and with a coil shock, which you really should get, it's going to be worse.

    IMO, go for something that has the leverage curve that can take a coil shock, that's more important for the kind of riding in this use. Efficient pedaling would be a plus for this obviously.
    "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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  6. #6
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    Scott Ransom?

  7. #7
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    I would get a RM
    -A they are designed there
    -B for its RIDE-9 Adjustable Geometry + Suspension Rate
    -C i would get an Element, it would be in its element
    -D maybe stretch the fork 10mm
    definitely not more in the rear.
    - i would even consider a 130 mm HT
    remember you make the difference with proper rubber and PSI.

  8. #8
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    Not alot of ride reports yet, but the new Banshee Titan looks interesting.

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails What's the ideal "Sea to Sky" 29er for BC's steep climbs and descents-titanblkside.jpg  



  9. #9
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    I live on the North Shore, just bought a Ripmo AF from Bici. Bummer on the ripmo price - the prices I've looked at from them are pretty much just the website prices converted to CAD, from what I've seen... (Which is pretty standard, I maybe could have gone to Fanatik and dealt with border etc and saved about $200 if I caught the exchange on a good day but eh, for me not worth it)

    Anyways I demoed the Ripmo and Evil offering previously in squamish and decided I wanted something slightly slacker than how those builds come stock, and I wasn't in love with the pricing, so Ripmo AF being slacker and cheaper made sense. Kona 134 is interesting but I think its in that same category - useable but you might want an angleset and you're going to make it out several times a ride. My rationale is at that point with how well some of the bigger bikes pedal these days, why buy something that's going to need mods right out of the gate?


    I ride similar trails to you. No offense to the guy recommending the element but IMHO that would be an uncommon choice for a "main" bike in this part of the world unless you were very XC oriented and were happy just surviving gnarlier trails.


    Other bikes I looked at:

    Pivot Firebird 29. If you want a big 29er that pedals well, hard to go wrong with this one. I mainly ruled this one out becuause I have two other bikes with 148 rear hubs and I swap wheels around, so I didn't want 157.

    Spartan 29. I didn't get along with the geo but it's the right "class" of bike IMO.

    Could also check out the slayer 29 and reign 29.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    If by "climbs great" you mean "climbs worse than many top tier bikes", then yes.


    This graph is plotted against other horst link bikes and some others that are not particularly good climbers, looking at SC, intense, yeti and others that have ~100% AS at about half travel, this knolly is significantly worse.

    Nothing around 6" is going to pedal super great and with a coil shock, which you really should get, it's going to be worse.

    IMO, go for something that has the leverage curve that can take a coil shock, that's more important for the kind of riding in this use. Efficient pedaling would be a plus for this obviously.
    I mean, nice chart and everything; but have you actually ridden any of those? 'Cause I can say that at least I've actually pedaled a Fugitive, a Smuggler and a Sentinel, and while I probably would buy a Sentinel for what I like to ride, the Fugitive checks a lot of the OP's boxes. And is built pretty specifically for the trails that they mentioned.

  11. #11
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    How about the Forbidden Druid? It's coming out of that area and supposedly is quite the terrain muncher, esp. for its nominal travel.

  12. #12
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    I’m finding bikes are almost starting to be like helmets. Find one that fits, and has the features you want.

    I lived in NVan for 18 years, and now in CO. What I want out of my bike is very different based on my ‘daily driving’. For long climbs that are more consistent, less punchy/ techy, I’d lean towards a short link bike like a Ripmo. Where traction is preferred, it’s tough to beat a Fugitive.

    Long descents, Ripmo is great, but the Fugitive sits a little deeper in its travel, thus feeling more plush.

    Customer service is also an issue. Having an problem with my Knolly was fine when I lived north of the border. Now, its a huge pain in the ass. Expect the same for any non-local small brand, unless they have a great local distributor (not dealer).

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeePhroh View Post
    I mean, nice chart and everything; but have you actually ridden any of those? 'Cause I can say that at least I've actually pedaled a Fugitive, a Smuggler and a Sentinel, and while I probably would buy a Sentinel for what I like to ride, the Fugitive checks a lot of the OP's boxes. And is built pretty specifically for the trails that they mentioned.
    I didn't say that it wouldn't be a good bike or that it wouldn't be decent for that kind of riding, especially if you can turn on a lockout and climb on fireroads, but a great climber it's not, opposite of what you said. We can accurately predict the suspension behavior these days, vs. when it was a mystery to most laypeople 10 or more years ago. It's science. Built for the trails he mentioned vs. climbs great are two different things, I'm thinking. I did just get back from a Pac NW trip where 3.5-4k climbs on each ride were normal. Unfortunately, in more of the high-traffic areas, it gets a little comical how many people are pushing their bikes uphill and having to take breaks all over the place, you know, with how great all of these new bikes pedal uphill
    "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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  14. #14
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    Check out post #5:

    https://forums.mtbr.com/western-cana...h-1115381.html

    Those guys just ripped the shit out of the Sea to Sky.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeePhroh View Post
    I mean, nice chart and everything; but have you actually ridden any of those? 'Cause I can say that at least I've actually pedaled a Fugitive, a Smuggler and a Sentinel, and while I probably would buy a Sentinel for what I like to ride, the Fugitive checks a lot of the OP's boxes. And is built pretty specifically for the trails that they mentioned.
    Can you compare the Smuggler with the Knolly?
    Many differences?

  16. #16
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    You're in Whistler, why not get a Chromag hardtail? Depending on your budget, check out the Doctahawk or the cheaper Rootdown.

    I know it's niche, but they definitely climb well and can handle the hard stuff with ease. Plus they are extra fun and will help you improve much more than a dually.

    You should hook up with them for a demo at least.
    Beware the hucking bear!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jumper79 View Post
    Can you compare the Smuggler with the Knolly?
    Many differences?
    Oh, definitely! The Fugitive is much more of a brawler than the Smuggler. I'd say it's a lot closer to the Sentinel, though maybe a bit less dh-oriented.

  18. #18
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    The fugitive has the same travel as the Smuggler, so I thought they might be eqal...

    What about the differences at the point of climbing?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Natazhat View Post
    To give you some reference, some of my favourite trails are things like Rusty Trombone and Creampuff in Pemberton, Howler and Out There in Whistler, and Boney Elbows / Entrails in Squamish.

    I definitely prioritize descending above climbing. However, I don't want to kill myself getting up.

    Maybe there are other models worth considering?
    I rode those trails on my GG Smash last summer. It handled them no problem. I have since put in a -1 deg headset and bumped the fork travel up my 10mm. I'm keen to go back and see how it performs on those trails after the mods.

    I was a bit concerned about the Smash's climbing capability, but it turns out to thrive on steep techy climbs and that's without bothering to reach down for the climb switch. It's turned out to be a great all round bike for Coastal BC riding. Enough capability to handle whatever you throw at it without making easier trails too boring. Efficient enough to tackle big alpine days without making you hurt on the climbs and then making you really happy on the descents.

    I don't find it's necessary even with a coil shock, but you can swap the shock mounting bolt in 30 seconds and make the bike firmer or plusher if you say have an extended climb followed by an extended descent.

    I ordered site unseen from GG, but if you contact them they can usually hook you up with a demo from a local GG owner.

    https://ridegg.com/thesmash

    Prices are competitive. The fact the frames are made in the US is a bonus as is the fact you can tweak the build kits to suit your preference so you don't waste any money on part you then have to upgrade right away.
    Safe riding,

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  20. #20
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    add Evil offering to the list! Rusty trombone is my fav trail!!!

  21. #21
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    Riding a Norco Optic 29er in the same area and somewhat the same trails (came from a 26 120mm bike): suits my riding needs (I like to climb, don't do too much jumping).
    The 2019 Optic Carbon is on sale on Norco's website.

    If looking for more travel, slso read really good reviews about the Norco Sight.

    Think you should be able to demo these at local Norco dealers.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Natazhat View Post
    I definitely prioritize descending above climbing. However, I don't want to kill myself getting up.

    Bikes I've demoed thus far:

    - SC Hightower 2020
    - Kona Process 153
    - Ibis Ripmo
    - Transition Sentinel

    All have been good bikes in their own way, but there are some annoyances.
    I had a similar situation 6 months ago, looking at the exact same bikes, and I picked the Kona Process, but there's a twist in my story.

    Quote Originally Posted by Natazhat View Post
    I wasn't a huge fan of the Process' build kit. Also at 5'9'' I'm kind of in no man's land for sizing. The medium is a bit smaller than I'd like and the large is a bit too big.
    I found a good deal on a frame-only purchase and built mine custom. I sized up, overforked to 170mm, and went with a 27.5 rear wheel. Yup, mullet style.

    I love it.


    * * *


    If you're not planning on doing a custom build, the Ripmo AF SLX build is a great deal, really good drivetrain, and effin good brakes. It's even a better bang-for-the-buck choice than the more expensive SRAM GX variant.

  23. #23
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    Double post
    Last edited by Verbl Kint; 4 Weeks Ago at 04:18 AM. Reason: Double post

  24. #24
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    I call modern geometry "Whistler geometry". I swear every bike designer comes to Whistler rides the valley trails and says I want a bike for these trails. Just about every manufacture has a bike that is fantastic on those trails.

    I am on an Orbea Rallon, which I absolutely love but I think I am going to replace it with their Occam. I think an Occam with a 36 on the front would be great Whistler corridor bike. If you can find a dealer (that is a challenge) the Canadian prices are really good on Orbeas.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

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