Ditch AM Hardtail for Short Travel FS??- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Ditch AM Hardtail for Short Travel FS??

    Been riding hardtails for 20 years and still love my Canfield EPO, but I'm starting to think the time has come to move onto a short-travel rig (Ibis Ripley or Transition Spur). Just a little bored of getting pounded and bounced around, even though I keep up with most folks on descents and can ride anything on it.

    My only hesitation is that I can probably build a 30mm wheelset with cush-core and 2.4-2.6 tires maybe save my hardtail passion, as well as a $2k+. Really the only thing I don't like is the bouncing and trail feedback at the hands and saddle.

    Anyone been in this predicament? Should I stay or should I go? The new Transition Spur (or Ibis Ripley) are really calling to me and would save me from always grabbing my 35lb enduro rig these days.

  2. #2
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    I think you should have 1 of each rig. That way you can switch back and forth between the 2 bikes based on how you want to ride for the day. I definitely like the Spur!
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaparzo View Post
    Been riding hardtails for 20 years and still love my Canfield EPO,
    To be fair the EPO is dated and has nothing on a modern geo AM hardtail. So perhaps it's just time to retire that bike and get something a little closer to the cutting edge of 2020 hardtail tech and yes it's changed a lot!
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  4. #4
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    What you need is a more modern hardtail, with a 140mm nice fork. And 29” wheels. 😁

  5. #5
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    Modern AM HTs are great, but a rigid rear remains a rigid rear. If anything, the new geo will allow you to go faster and get more beaten up in the process. Bigger tyres and inserts will help a bit but still it's a rigid rear triangle. Personally I'm a big fan, but I can see from where the OP is coming from. The few short travel 29ers I've ridden were a lot of fun without any hurt.

    As much as I love ht's, if you find yourself always reaching for the big bike then maybe a short travel trail bike is what you need.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by cookieMonster View Post
    What you need is a more modern hardtail, with a 140mm nice fork. And 29” wheels.
    The EPO already uses 29” wheels


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  7. #7
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    I just picked up a new Tallboy for similar reasons. When I would ride my local trails on my enduro bike I'd wish I had a more efficient bike and when. I rode my AM hardtail I'd wish I had full suspension (for the handling and comfort aspects).

  8. #8
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    As much as I really enjoy my hardtail, if I were in a one bike situation, it would have a little squish in the back. I like the look of that Spur, and also the Revel Ranger.

  9. #9
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    The longer wheelbase and bigger tire clearance of modern HTs will beat you up less than something older. Especially if you make it a priority to get a supple frame vs. something that's overly stiff. If the OP hasn't tried something current it's hard to know if they'd be wanting a FS bike any more. Since they expressed an interest in staying on a HT I'd try something modern, supple with big tires first.
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  10. #10
    The Riddler
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    Quote Originally Posted by Battery View Post
    I think you should have 1 of each rig. That way you can switch back and forth between the 2 bikes based on how you want to ride for the day. I definitely like the Spur!
    Ha, that would bring it to three and I'm already a bit overstaffed here...would be nice!

  11. #11
    The Riddler
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChvleSS956c View Post
    The EPO already uses 29” wheels


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Yes, and a 140mm fork...

    Curious about the updated geo. Comparing the EPO (2017) to the Ripley/Spur, they're actually pretty similar except for wheelbase, chainstay, and stack. The EPO is a pretty tall bike with short chainstays, but otherwise HA and STA are pretty good.

    The geo on the EPO doesn't feel overly dated compared to my 2019 Smash, which I do intend to keep and use for proper "enduro" ripping. Just looking for something to balance it against for tamer/longer/faster days and a different riding style.

    I do agree a steel bike might offer more damping, but also weight and I do love that the thing climbs as fast as I can push it. That said, steel hardtail vs. carbon FS probably negligible.

    What are some examples of newer AM hardtails that might fit the bill? I guess I could do wheels first and then see how it goes and consider a new frame. How much improvement in comfort (mentally) am I going to feel with cush-core/better tires/etc. is my real question.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaparzo View Post
    Yes, and a 140mm fork...

    Curious about the updated geo. Comparing the EPO (2017) to the Ripley/Spur, they're actually pretty similar except for wheelbase, chainstay, and stack. The EPO is a pretty tall bike with short chainstays, but otherwise HA and STA are pretty good.

    The geo on the EPO doesn't feel overly dated compared to my 2019 Smash, which I do intend to keep and use for proper "enduro" ripping. Just looking for something to balance it against for tamer/longer/faster days and a different riding style.

    I do agree a steel bike might offer more damping, but also weight and I do love that the thing climbs as fast as I can push it. That said, steel hardtail vs. carbon FS probably negligible.

    What are some examples of newer AM hardtails that might fit the bill? I guess I could do wheels first and then see how it goes and consider a new frame. How much improvement in comfort (mentally) am I going to feel with cush-core/better tires/etc. is my real question.
    My bad, I should have looked at the specs of your EPO before posting. Geometry isn't far off modern standards, so I don't think that's an issue.

    After a certain point, there is nothing you can do to change the fact that it's a hardtail, and there's always going to be more feedback in your feet/hands/body. What size rims and tires do you currently run?

    On my Honzo, I've got 29mm internal width rims and a 2.5" Maxxis Minion DHF up front, and a Maxxis 2.3" Aggressor in the back (kinda wish I'd gone 2.5" there as well). The Aggressor has a Double-down casing, so I can get away with running it fairly low pressure; around 22psi is the sweet spot for me. On the front I can do 18psi with no rim strikes. I can rally pretty hard on that bike, but on longer rides (20 miles +) I do start to feel the fact that it's still a hardtail.

    I think what I'd recommend is trying some bigger tires if you aren't already, and run them fairly low pressure just to see if that difference in feel is enough to make you happy. Then, if you like it, maybe put a cushcore in the rear.

    Otherwise, the modern short-travel 29ers can be amazing bikes if you can come up with the money.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaparzo View Post
    The geo on the EPO doesn't feel overly dated compared to my 2019 Smash, which I do intend to keep and use for proper "enduro" ripping. Just looking for something to balance it against for tamer/longer/faster days and a different riding style.
    You can't compare FS and HT geo. The bikes behave differently when sagged.

    Here's the geo on a Chromag Rootdown vs. The EPO...both in large:

    HTA - 64/66.8 deg
    STA - 76 [straight]/74.5 [getting much slacker as the seat goes up]
    WB - 1251/1178mm
    Reach - 487/450
    Max Fork 170/140mm

    The EPO is nowhere near modern in geo. Doesn't make it a bad bike, but apples to oranges comparison.
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  14. #14
    The Riddler
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    Quote Originally Posted by vikb View Post
    You can't compare FS and HT geo. The bikes behave differently when sagged.

    Here's the geo on a Chromag Rootdown vs. The EPO...both in large:

    HTA - 64/66.8 deg
    STA - 76 [straight]/74.5 [getting much slacker as the seat goes up]
    WB - 1251/1178mm
    Reach - 487/450
    Max Fork 170/140mm

    The EPO is nowhere near modern in geo. Doesn't make it a bad bike, but apples to oranges comparison.
    Fair enough, good points! Still not entirely sold that new wheel setup + new frame will do enough to cover what short-travel FS could do without also spending almost the same amount of money and giving up some rotational weight acceleration in the wheels. Tough one!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaparzo View Post
    Still not entirely sold that new wheel setup + new frame will do enough to cover what short-travel FS could do without also spending almost the same amount of money and giving up some rotational weight acceleration in the wheels. Tough one!
    A modern AM HT will never be the same as a short travel FS bike. Even if you get them pretty equivalent in terms of performance you are looking at two different ways to ride the trail. Ultimately you have to decide which one appeals to you more.

    I ride my HT on steep techy rough Coastal BC trails. I don't grab it because it's better than my FS bike or even the same...I grab it because it has a very different and enjoyable way of riding the same trails.

    No wrong answer really.
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  16. #16
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    I'm going the other way around. Going from 3 bikes to 2.

    From Long Travel, Short Travel, hardtail
    To Long Travel, more capable modern geo HT.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaparzo View Post
    Been riding hardtails for 20 years and still love my Canfield EPO, but I'm starting to think the time has come to move onto a short-travel rig (Ibis Ripley or Transition Spur). Just a little bored of getting pounded and bounced around, even though I keep up with most folks on descents and can ride anything on it.

    My only hesitation is that I can probably build a 30mm wheelset with cush-core and 2.4-2.6 tires maybe save my hardtail passion, as well as a $2k+. Really the only thing I don't like is the bouncing and trail feedback at the hands and saddle.

    Anyone been in this predicament? Should I stay or should I go? The new Transition Spur (or Ibis Ripley) are really calling to me and would save me from always grabbing my 35lb enduro rig these days.
    Any chance it's a size XL EPO?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by vikb View Post
    A modern AM HT will never be the same as a short travel FS bike. Even if you get them pretty equivalent in terms of performance you are looking at two different ways to ride the trail. Ultimately you have to decide which one appeals to you more.

    I ride my HT on steep techy rough Coastal BC trails. I don't grab it because it's better than my FS bike or even the same...I grab it because it has a very different and enjoyable way of riding the same trails.

    No wrong answer really.
    Yeah, agreed. I think that's the dilemma, I still enjoy/appreciate it but don't have the passion for it as much. Maybe just need to spice things up for a bit and then come back.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by justwan naride View Post
    Modern AM HTs are great, but a rigid rear remains a rigid rear. If anything, the new geo will allow you to go faster and get more beaten up in the process. Bigger tyres and inserts will help a bit but still it's a rigid rear triangle.
    Very true. The faster you ride the higher the fork and tire pressure has to be. On a local flow/jump have to run at least 30 psi with an insert to keep the rear tire from folding in the corners and compressions (still have some folding at 30 psi). Hitting bumps and compressions gets pretty rough at speed.

    You can't have your cake and eat it too. If you're taking advantage of (riding aggressive) the improved capability of a modern AM hardtail then you can't run high volume light duty tires at 20 psi or less.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy3220 View Post
    Very true. The faster you ride the higher the fork and tire pressure has to be. On a local flow/jump have to run at least 30 psi with an insert to keep the rear tire from folding in the corners and compressions (still have some folding at 30 psi). Hitting bumps and compressions gets pretty rough at speed.

    You can't have your cake and eat it too. If you're taking advantage of (riding aggressive) the improved capability of a modern AM hardtail then you can't run high volume light duty tires at 20 psi or less.
    I think this is exactly my current feeling and future concern trying to retain the hardtail by chasing a "better" wheelset and/or hardtail frame. I can rally the hell out of the bike, but the harder I ride it the more I have to protect the tires/rims/bike with higher pressures and body english. If rallying a fun/fast bike without body/wheel smashing is the goal, I should probably steer towards the short travel FS for now and come back to the hardtail when the interest calls again.

  21. #21
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    OP, get a short travel FS if that's what you're excited to ride. That's what's important. Your EPO is dated, imo, and a modern hardtail or a short travel FS will both be a hoot.

    Quote Originally Posted by justwan naride View Post
    Modern AM HTs are great, but a rigid rear remains a rigid rear. If anything, the new geo will allow you to go faster and get more beaten up in the process.
    That hasn't been my experience at all. I got a custom 'bleeding edge' long travel hardtail last year, and it might be just as comfortable as my (very good) 6" bike. Either bike is plenty comfy enough for a nonstop downieville drop or a day in the bike park. That's all that matters to me wrt comfort- it doesn't impinge on my riding joy.

    I've never had a short wheelbase hardtail, like the epo, where that was the case.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by justwan naride View Post
    Modern AM HTs are great, but a rigid rear remains a rigid rear. If anything, the new geo will allow you to go faster and get more beaten up in the process. Bigger tyres and inserts will help a bit but still it's a rigid rear triangle. Personally I'm a big fan, but I can see from where the OP is coming from. The few short travel 29ers I've ridden were a lot of fun without any hurt.

    As much as I love ht's, if you find yourself always reaching for the big bike then maybe a short travel trail bike is what you need.
    I agree with this. Regardless of how much travel you throw up front...or try to stretch the geo of the frame...the rear is still rigid. The faster you go over rough terrain...the harder you are going to get hammered. The back end of the bike will bounce uncontrollably and skip side to side. I remember getting rattled so hard that my vision got completely blurred out.

    I've watched a few of "Hardtail Party's" videos...and I can see that he's getting hammered once the terrain starts to get rough. There's no way around it...having that rear suspension will allow you to ride smoother and have more control through rough spots. If you're riding some relatively smooth trail...a HT can be just fine...but bring in some ruts or really rough...jarring sections...unless you slow down...it's gonna beat you down.

  23. #23
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    The other 'issue' with progressive hardtails is they typically have shorter chainstays. This means not only a greater rearward weight distribution but the chainstay will be stiffer (all things equal). My Pedalhead (steel 65° HTA) is actually a bit harsher than my old aluminum hardtail. It's a fun bike but you can't defy physics - a rigid rear is going to be harsh compared to something with suspension.

  24. #24
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    Go take a StumpJumper ST for a spin..... work it out from there

  25. #25
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    Anyway to keep the HT and get a F/S?

    I've settled on a long (ish) travel 29er F/S (currently Ripmo AF) + my Ragley Big Wig steel hardtail with a 140 fork.

    It is a perfect quiver, with the Big Wig being surprisingly capable that it gets plenty of riding (more than just a 'backup' bike).
    I like 'em long, low, slack and playful

  26. #26
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    Op, I’m going the other way and adding a modern HT to the quiver. My 130/150 bike is awesome but having a shorter bike when the mood strikes was nagging at me.

    If I didn’t go with a HT a short travel ripper would’ve been my pick.

    Banshee Phantom, Yeti sb115, even a Following sound like a ton of fun. If the HT and I don’t get along, something like this will replace it. Getting ahead of myself though...

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