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  1. #1
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    Desert Classic: AM or XC

    Hi everyone,

    I am currently in the market for a new mtb and since I'm kind of new I wasn't really sure how to classify Desert Classic in SOMO (cross-country or all-mountain). I live close to Telegraph Pass so I usually start there and work my way toward the water towers. I'm sure that Desert Classic is nothing like National, but I consider DC to be extremely rocky (I mean that in a good way). Rocks on the uphills, rocks on the downhills, basically rocks everywhere. At first I thought that DC might be classified as XC, but with all the rocks and the abuse a bike would have to take, I am now thinking that an AM bike may be more appropriate.

    What are your thoughts?

    Thanks
    Jim

  2. #2
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    My dos cents:

    Your gonna gets guys on both sides of the fence...as there are alot of other factors than just the type of bike. Such as how often do you ride, you ride for 100% fun or is there some deep down training/racing input into your rides, how important is weight vs. reliability, and others.

    I ride an FSR which is slated as a XC bike, but not quite a full on race rig. It works "just enough" for DC, which I ride 2-3 times per week. I'm only 30, but I've been riding DC for 15 years so maybe I'm just used it, but it doesn't bother me that much. I take the less weight over more travel route as I like to push myself as much as I can. I rarely lose much time on the decents as my technical abilities are pretty good, but you can loose alot more time on the climbs/hammering sections lugging some extra weight/travel. As I have the desire to "get better each time I ride" my time/speed is more imporant than comfort, so I suck up the extra bumps and keep griding away.

    My last bike was SC Bullitt...which I could ride DC while eating ice cream if I wanted, but I was much slower as it was just more mass to move around.

  3. #3
    im4Gsus
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    for all the phoenix area trails, get a good full-suspension bike with 5" travel. even better, get a 29er.
    if you ever want to go gnarlier (national / goat camp / geronimo / holbert and such) get a second bike, a down hill one, and lots of armor.

    my 2
    "If God is your co-pilot you're in the wrong seat!" S Barrington

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by cru_jones
    My dos cents:

    Your gonna gets guys on both sides of the fence...as there are alot of other factors than just the type of bike. Such as how often do you ride, you ride for 100% fun or is there some deep down training/racing input into your rides, how important is weight vs. reliability, and others.
    I won't be racing, just riding for fun and exercise. I hope to be riding on DC at least 3 to 5 times a week. I am going to go before or after work during the week, and both days on the weekend.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaboose
    for all the phoenix area trails, get a good full-suspension bike with 5" travel. even better, get a 29er.
    if you ever want to go gnarlier (national / goat camp / geronimo / holbert and such) get a second bike, a down hill one, and lots of armor.

    my 2
    I think by recommending 5 inch travel for DC that you are saying it is more AM than XC. Makes sense.

    As far as National goes, I have a long way to go before I think about that one.

  6. #6
    im4Gsus
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    Quote Originally Posted by juniordirt
    I think by recommending 5 inch travel for DC that you are saying it is more AM than XC. Makes sense.
    no, i'm not recommending 5" for DC but for all the trails in the valley and most in prescott, sedona and flag.
    i hope you do go ride some other trails besides DC! yikes, i'd be bored out of my mind if i rode the same trail all the time...
    "If God is your co-pilot you're in the wrong seat!" S Barrington

  7. #7
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    I'd suggest getting a bike with at least 6" of travel if you want to have the most fun and also be able to have fun riding national someday. Who cares about a little extra weight as it will be smoother and more fun, not to mention get you in better shape than riding the lightest bike possible. If you ever decided to race someday you could buy a lighter bike to race and then you will really fast on that bike. I ride my 8'" travel bike mostly on national but am not afraid to take it on 18 miles of desert classic and still be as fast as alot of guys on DC on there weight weenie bikes.

  8. #8
    im4Gsus
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    PS: if you're only going to ride DC then i recommend a 29er single speed.

    that's what i rode there and i'm old and slow!
    "If God is your co-pilot you're in the wrong seat!" S Barrington

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaboose
    no, i'm not recommending 5" for DC but for all the trails in the valley and most in prescott, sedona and flag.
    i hope you do go ride some other trails besides DC! yikes, i'd be bored out of my mind if i rode the same trail all the time...
    DC is so close to home (I live near Telegraph Pass) so I figure I will be riding it a lot. However, riding up north sounds totally awesome, especially this time of year.

  10. #10
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    I enjoy riding dc on all my bikes...8incher, 5 incher, or hardtail. If you're looking to stay on the cheap, a good solid HT will do ya. But a little squish is nice. Don't buy into the 29er stuff just yet, try out a good ole 26r and then if you feel like you wanna cheat a little go for the 29. But a 26 will do everything a 9r will do and cheaper! A good 5incher will be great on dc and all the other stuff in the state as previously mentioned. I ride my HT up on national and can rail the fast stuff faster than my big bike, but it hurts when I huck a big one. Check out a giant, or a spesh and you should be good to go! Have fun...it's addicting

  11. #11
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    do you guys think a trance (5") is sufficient for national?

  12. #12
    One day at a time......
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    My C'dale Rush 3 was great on DC. 4" both ends.
    "It's all about personal integrity, hope, and a really great beer."

  13. #13
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    I believe all you need is a hardtail steel framed 29er with a decent front shock. The steel frame and the 29 inch tires give a nice soft ride and you dont have a bunch of squish when you climb. I prefer to SS but I have ridden 6 inch travel 26 AM, hard tail geared, hard tailed soft tail geared but I keep going back to a steel framed SS 29er. BTW, you can ride National on a SS hard tail too. Frim what I read about what and how you are riding I would stay 29er, the documented and personal riding benefits for your type of riding dictate a 29er. Of course this is my opinion but I believe by opinion is always right

    Try a few out. See what you like that is the most important thing!

    For a steel framed geared 29er make sure you put the Salsa El Mariachi, Gary Fisher Ferrous, Vassago Bandersnatch and Niner (SIR 9 I think) on your list to check out. Rage has Salsa, Niner and FIsher and you can check out Vassago at the Pig. I have owned all but the Niner. I really love the Vassago Jabberwocky which is the SS version of the Bandersnatch.

    Good Lck
    Last edited by ruzz; 07-26-2009 at 08:15 PM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by helidave
    do you guys think a trance (5") is sufficient for national?

    Yep.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by latedropbob
    I enjoy riding dc on all my bikes...
    Sorry to the DC lovers in advance.
    I'm usually one of those "any ride is a good ride" folk, but I hate that trail on all my bikes.

    I would definitely call it an XC trail. The kitty litter, magic-slight-uphill-both-ways, and loose rockiness don't make it AM...but they don't make it a worthwhile XC trail for me either. Have you been out to Hawes? Not much more technical and much more interesting (similar to Secret I guess).

    Regarding your main question - if you plan on eventually hitting most trails the valley has to offer, I'd go with a 5" full squish (if you want to hit *all* the trails I'd go with a 6"). Depends on what you like of course and what you plan to ride. My joints are too messed up to enjoy a rigid bike anymore (unless it is CC on buttery Eastern trails). The Giant Trance would probably be great (for Natty)... I think the Cactus shop has some you could rent and try out.

    Best of luck and have fun riding!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by juniordirt
    Hi everyone,

    I am currently in the market for a new mtb and since I'm kind of new I wasn't really sure how to classify Desert Classic in SOMO (cross-country or all-mountain). I live close to Telegraph Pass so I usually start there and work my way toward the water towers. I'm sure that Desert Classic is nothing like National, but I consider DC to be extremely rocky (I mean that in a good way). Rocks on the uphills, rocks on the downhills, basically rocks everywhere. At first I thought that DC might be classified as XC, but with all the rocks and the abuse a bike would have to take, I am now thinking that an AM bike may be more appropriate.

    What are your thoughts?

    Thanks
    Jim
    Even though DC is mostly made up of rocks it is considered an XC trail. It sounds like you would be happy and well suited on a 5" travel bike. For the most part you can ride everything on South Mountain with a bike that has 5inches of travel as well as a majority of the trails here in AZ as well as many other places.

  17. #17
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    It's funny, even though I also consider Desert Classic to be an xc trail, I have had my worst wrecks there. I guess I usually am more focused on Natty and others.
    .....

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jean-louey
    Sorry to the DC lovers in advance.
    I'm usually one of those "any ride is a good ride" folk, but I hate that trail on all my bikes.

    I would definitely call it an XC trail. The kitty litter, magic-slight-uphill-both-ways, and loose rockiness don't make it AM...but they don't make it a worthwhile XC trail for me either. Have you been out to Hawes? Not much more technical and much more interesting (similar to Secret I guess).

    +1 I'm with you on this, never liked Desert Classic at all, not even when I was a total newbie beginner on the bike, just a plain boring trail. Hawes on the other hand is great, love that ride! The MMP loops, T100, and estrella are all XC trails that in my opion are 10x better than DC. To whoever likes it though, ride on, enjoy it, that's all that matters . And for the original question I don't see anything on DC that makes it "AM". I'm not so sure I even like putting trails into categories (XC,AM,DH), isn't it all relative to how someone chooses to ride the trail?
    JRA

  19. #19
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    Mo doesn't like DC cuz he can't go fast enough I ride that on my FS rig as well as my DJ, both are a blast unless I'm feeling like poo and can't maintain the speed..I'd def. classify it as an XC type ride but it does come down to how you ride it (mellow or aggressive).
    Desert Sunset Calls/Upward, Pain, Perseverance/Welcome Solitude

  20. #20
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    This is some great information. Thanks everyone for your replies.

    Jim

  21. #21
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    I'm in the same crowd that recommends a 5 to 6'' bike. It works fine on DC and you can ride 95% of everything in AZ on that type of bike, and ride it well.

    I'm also in the same crowd that HATES DC. Kitty litter? Uphill in both directions? HAHA, totally agree. I've hated that trail the moment I discovered Hawes, MMP, etc, etc. Now if I lived right next door I guess I'd ride it some......but OP...you gotta go check out some other stuff, I'd start with Hawes.

  22. #22
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    It's right out the dude's back door...why drive 30+ minutes if you can ride in 30+ seconds. I for one enjoy all of DC...it's a good workout, challenging climbs and some fun descents and you can scare the crap out of yourself if you ride it fast enough, especially at night. Do 5 miles or 30 and you can have fun either way. Plus you got secret and helipad to make it interesting. I really enjoy the helipad dh and the descent going west from the bottom of the helipad goat hike saddle to the telegraph trailhead, talk about fast and flowy. Don't get me wrong I enjoy hawes and t100 alot, but I can be on DC from my house in 10 minutes, 20 if I ride from my garage. Here's the bike I just built up for my "all mountain" rides, and by AM I mean all mountains and trails
    Photobucket

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by kenbentit
    Mo doesn't like DC cuz he can't go fast enough I ride that on my FS rig as well as my DJ, both are a blast unless I'm feeling like poo and can't maintain the speed..I'd def. classify it as an XC type ride but it does come down to how you ride it (mellow or aggressive).
    In all reality you would have a blast on a tricycle in a driveway (then again, who wouldn't)...and still rip it harder than I 'rip' Natty.

  24. #24
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    I like your attitude Bob. You're just a better man than me. But then again, I'm a woman. BTW, Sweet Rig! Talk about shiny and new. When are we riding again?

    Quote Originally Posted by latedropbob
    It's right out the dude's back door...why drive 30+ minutes if you can ride in 30+ seconds. I for one enjoy all of DC...it's a good workout, challenging climbs and some fun descents and you can scare the crap out of yourself if you ride it fast enough, especially at night.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by kenbentit
    Mo doesn't like DC cuz he can't go fast enough
    Shhh, don't tell anyone . I can be a superhero behind my keyboard
    JRA

  26. #26
    Shred...it's the new drug
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    tonight at hawes...who's in for the break in ride? jean, brett, mo???

  27. #27
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    Nice!

    Quote Originally Posted by latedropbob
    It's right out the dude's back door...why drive 30+ minutes if you can ride in 30+ seconds. I for one enjoy all of DC...it's a good workout, challenging climbs and some fun descents and you can scare the crap out of yourself if you ride it fast enough, especially at night. Do 5 miles or 30 and you can have fun either way. Plus you got secret and helipad to make it interesting. I really enjoy the helipad dh and the descent going west from the bottom of the helipad goat hike saddle to the telegraph trailhead, talk about fast and flowy. Don't get me wrong I enjoy hawes and t100 alot, but I can be on DC from my house in 10 minutes, 20 if I ride from my garage. Here's the bike I just built up for my "all mountain" rides, and by AM I mean all mountains and trails
    Photobucket
    Nice looking rig. Now go get it dirty.... Are those LX cranks? Let me know how you like them. I am thinking of replacing my Stylos on my AM rig with LX. It looks like it will be the spring or so until I can get on the Wednesday morning shuttle again. That was fun the one time I got out there. I swapped weekday exercise days with the wife to Tuesday and Thursday until her marathon training is over in January.

    bobo

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by latedropbob
    Here's the bike I just built up for my "all mountain" rides, and by AM I mean all mountains and trails
    That thing looks like it'd be really difficult to pedal.

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  29. #29
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    DC was the very 1st MTB trail that I ever rode and it is still one of my favorites. It has a little bit of everything and you can make it a fun and casual ride or hammer it and get a great workout. I have ridden it on everything from a Al HT to a 5" FS. I think a 4"- 5" FS would be a good call for the OP. I currently ride a 26" steel HT and it is a great fit for me and the trails I ride - DC, Hawes, T100, MMP, Flagstaff, ect. I agree that you should try and test ride as many bikes as you can before throwing down your $$.
    Marty

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by latedropbob
    tonight at hawes...who's in for the break in ride? jean, brett, mo???

    I'll be there........on my 38 pound XC bike
    JRA

  31. #31
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    i used to ride DC with a 5" bike. didnt really like it much. I DID like it on my Epic, with a 3.9" rear. it was nice and fast. But thats a race XC bike.

    I currently love DC on my 29er steel hard tail (vassago Jaberwocky) set up as a 1x9.

    Its funny, here in AZ we think DC is mainly XC. i have been to other states, and their XC trails are like sidewalks, and their AM trails feel like DC. I rode in socal once on a steel hardtail, and saw others riding 5 and 6" bikes. The trail was not that rough.
    A burrito is a sleeping bag for ground beef.

  32. #32
    more beers, lees gears.
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    the biggest question: What is your budget?
    NEW Bikes: Under $1200, stick to a hardtail. Most FS bikes in this price are heavy, bouncy, and week on parts.

    Used bikes: Under $700 stick to hard tail. sure there are some good deals to be had on a FS, but i question why its cheap (old, beat up, ridden hard, needs repair). Generally.


    So OP, whats your budget for your bike?
    A burrito is a sleeping bag for ground beef.

  33. #33
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    It's right out the dude's back door...why drive 30+ minutes if you can ride in 30+ seconds.
    Dude needs to get out and ride some different trails, that's all I'm saying. Hawes is right out my back door (and I ride it a lot), but I make the 25 minute drive to SoMo once or twice a week. I LOVE Hawes but riding it every day without going to different places gets old pretty quick. The good thing about Hawes is I don't think it's much more difficult than DC, but it's very different, very scenic, and imo much more enjoyable. The scenery alone (minus the ASU chicks it short shorts) is worth a drive over every once in a while.

    Anyway I didn't mean to turn this into a "what trail is better?" thread.

    OP: I'd go for a good 5'' bike or even a light 6'' bike. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a 4'' bike but if you really get into riding more challenging AZ trails you won't be sorry you bought a bike with a little more travel and slacker angles. I had a 4'' xc bike when I first starting ride dc, it was fine. As moved to the upper trails on SoMo I enjoyed them but probably went over my bars once every other ride. Many of my problems were due to my inexperience with such technical trails, no doubt. I will say though, that the first time I hit National on my 575, rather than my 4'' Tomac, it was a night and day difference in confidence. The slacker HA made a world of difference.

  34. #34
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    Diggin the new ride Bob
    Jean; I actually DO have a tricycle that's so much fun to ride it should be a controlled substance
    Desert Sunset Calls/Upward, Pain, Perseverance/Welcome Solitude

  35. #35
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    I used to live in Tempe and rode DC a lot. On a steel HT SS I was way faster on the 26er than the 29er with equal gearing. Not saying it was a better/more enjoyable ride, but it was markedly faster......

    To the OP, I think of DC as XC, if that is all you are doing then anything from a HT SS to a light 4" FS rig would be good. If you are looking to go up the mountain then a 5-6" FS bike is good for anything (not perfect for all, but a good compromise).

  36. #36
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    I been riding DC since I was 15 (now almost 32) and have found that I like my current 09 Stumpy FSR better than my previous 2 mountain bikes (carbon HT Univega with a Mag 21 and a Carbon Schwinn Homegrown with a Sid) They Stumpy has 120mm of travel and is more than enough for DC. I just finished my Singlespeed hardtail buildup and plan on its maiden voyage on DC as soon as I am back from vacation. My favorite XC trail locally is the long loop at Mcdowell but enjoy Hawes as well. I agree that you need to try out several different bike and find out which one is best for your overall riding.

  37. #37
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    I have a 5 inch travel bike (Turner DW Spot), a 4 inch travel bike (Turner DW Flux), and a 29er singlespeed with front suspension (Vassago Jabberwocky). I ride all of these bikes on DC. If I could only have one I would lean towards a 5 inch travel bike. You can easily build a 28 lb 5 inch travel bike which will be light enough to go fast but you will still have the 5 inches of travel for the rock gardens. Although a 29er is fun, I would not recommend a 29er hardtail if it is going to be your only bike. A 5" inch travel bike will work best - versatile and you can eventually ride it on other trails such as Mormon and National.

  38. #38
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    I agree with most of the replies saying you should go with a 5-6" FS bike, because eventually you will want to ride other trails and this type of bike is suited to most AZ terrain.

    As far as DC goes, I used to live in Ahwatukee, and I rode DC on everything from a fully rigid SS, to a hardtail with 4" in front, to a 36 pound 6" AM bike. The AM bike was just overkill for that trail, the rigid SS was fun, but left me wanting on some of the faster sections where I was spinning out, and the 4" geared hardtail was like baby bears bed, "just right".
    "Doing the right thing" is like water. It's good for all living things,and flows without thinking about where it's going.

  39. #39
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    Single speed 29er is the best option for most trails in the valley espcially DC and with practice and correct gear ratio you can do just about any trail. Go Single Speed.
    "Not drinking is the Single Speed World Championships version of doping" -Jacquie Phelan

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  40. #40
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    A friend of mine just move here a few months ago and rides 29" rigid SS. I thought to myself "no way, not gonna work here..." and needless to say, he has ridden many of the normal valley haunts except National with no issues (just has not tried it yet.)

    I ride a 26" FS Trek EX 6, pretty low budget rig compared to many others out there, and it works for me. I am thinking of going with a 29" HT, not sure which one yet.

    OP, as you can see, there is no "correct" answer. Ride a few different set ups and see what works for ya.

  41. #41
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    You guys and gals are great. Thanks for your responses.

    If anyone knows of any used bikes for sale please PM me or send an email using the dropdown menu. I am going used for now.

    Thanks
    Jim
    Last edited by juniordirt; 08-20-2009 at 03:54 PM.

  42. #42
    more beers, lees gears.
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    again, budget?
    A burrito is a sleeping bag for ground beef.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattKHS
    again, budget?
    My budget is just under $1K for a used bike.
    Last edited by juniordirt; 07-29-2009 at 10:22 AM.

  44. #44
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    I made my pick...

    After much consideration I have decided on a FS 29er. I met and spoke with several people on Desert Classic over the last few weeks and noticed that for Desert Classic (and probably similar C-level trails) many were riding a 29er. These were people with several bikes in there stable and they preferred to ride their 29er. I realize that the 29er can't do everything but for the time being, it will handle all the trails I want to ride for the next year or two.

    I'll be renting one this weekend weekend and if all goes well I should a proud owner by next week. I am looking at a Kona Hei Hei 29er.

    Thanks for all the feedback.
    Jim

  45. #45
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    Desert Classic is XC, but I have still rode(riden?) it on my 34 lb Canfield. It's all relative BTW, nice Transition - what does she weight?

  46. #46
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    The HeiHei 29er weighs in at 30.37lbs. Some people swap out a few parts to lighten the load, but I'm fine with it.

    Jim

  47. #47
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    This trail is XC. Never rode past Corona Loma TH. What is the coast to coast portion like? Maybe that is AM...

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