Best trail bike for the money?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    New question here. Best trail bike for the money?

    I posted the same thread in the all-mountain forum, so please excuse me if this is a repeat post for some of you.

    I am looking for the best trail bike I can buy (new) for under $1800. This will be my first DS bike, and I will not be racing, doing any jumps or stunts, or taking any drops over 2-3 ft. I ride a lot of tight, rooty, rocky east coast single track full of switchbacks, technical climbs and fast descents. I need a bike that climbs well but is not nervous and unstable on the descents. I have narrowed my search to the following:

    Giant Trance 2
    Santa Cruz Superlight w/ DXC build kit
    Specialized FSRXC Comp & Pro
    Cannondale Rush 5

    I have also looked at the Mongoose Teocali Elite and Kona Dawg because they are in my price range and have received great reviews. However I would not get the luxury of a test ride if I went that route, and the amount of travel on those two would be more than I would need on 90% of my rides. Not to mention they would be heavier than the others by 2-3 lbs.

    Do you guys have any thoughts on these bikes? Feel free to mention any others that you think would suit as well. Thanks!

  2. #2
    sonoranbiker
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    I looked at some of the same bikes in my quest for the perfect ride about a month ago. Specialized FSR XC pro is a good bike, but more engineered towards racing. The Santa Cruz is a solid bike, although a the frame design is bit dated. It's biggest limitation is the components that come with it, especially the Tora fork. A good bike if you plan on upgrading a lot of stuff really soon.

    I ended up going with the Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp. You should check it out. It's $200 more than your budget, but a really good bike with a component package that it seems to me doesn't really need upgrading. Also, for rocky, rooty riding 5" is really nice, especially if you want 1 bike that does it all.

    Happy buying.

  3. #3
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    Nice choices

    if you're looking for "bang for the buck" as the title suggests, The Rush 5 and the Stumpy would be my choices from the list. As for other suggestions, I'd add a budget Heckler build to your list. If you're willing to buy online, check out some of the Iron Horse offerings at Randall Scott. They always have excellent deals going. In that you're considering single pivot bikes check out the Atlas line from Ibex:

    http://www.ibexbikes.com/Stacks/Series_Atlas.html

    I just bought an Atlas Expert and the minimal time I've had on it has been great. Check out my threads in the Ibex forum for more info if you're interested.

    Bob
    'If Wal-Mart sold parachutes, who would jump?' Frank Havnoonian (quoting his father) Drexel Hill Cyclery

  4. #4
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    The superlight is a great bike and I really like Santa Cruz bikes, and the single pivot design is very reliable. The newer designs are supposed to be more efficient at climbing, but that is debated by those who own single pivot and owners of vpp, maestro, etc. Id look into a Heckler for a trail bike with its 5" of rear wheel travel like mentioned above. It would perform better on the downhills then the superlight and still climb fairly well.

  5. #5
    Live Free and Ride
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    Santa Cruz...

    Santa Cruz are great bikes and while the design may be outdated it still works and works well. The Superlight is a great bike and I hear the 07's are beefed up a bit over the previous years. I agree though the Heckler is a great bike that will allow you to get just a bit more wicked out on the trail and not have to worry about damage, it will also allow you to grow a bit as you get used to squishy bikes.

  6. #6
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    Too heavy?

    I thought about the Heckler Deore build, but I would like to keep the weight below 30 lbs. Is the extra travel and slack geometry worth the weight penalty? Would I pay the price on the climbs with the Heckler vs. the Trance or Superlight?

  7. #7
    Live Free and Ride
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    Paying the price...

    You might pay the price on the hills but it would be very small bills, in my opinion nothing over say $20. Also I think this would be a diminishing bill as the more you ride the stronger you get and if the Heckler is the only bike you ride it'll be what you are used to. If you are racing hardcore and want to podium everytime then the Superlight would be a wier investement I suppose. I own one and know that it is a quick fun bike but as I've grown in abilities and broadened my riding styles I wish I had a one Heckler that can tackle most anything I want and not the Superlight which is designed for staright XC and a Bullit which is designed for FR. The Heckler, in my opinion puts you in the range of both without costing an arm and two legs.

  8. #8
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    Jman,

    I've been thinking the same thing about the Heckler, but I also hear that the new SL design is more suited to harder trail riding than the old design. More stiffness, better geometry, and a more comfy riding position are some of the things I am hearing. I am not a clyde (5'10" 185lbs) so durability should not be an issue, but keeping up with my buddies might. My regular riding crew consists of a Yeti 575, Turner Flux, Fisher hardtail, and me.

    Do you think someone could get away with the SL and if I want to get a little more agressive maybe get an adjustable fork (100-130mm) down the road?

  9. #9
    Live Free and Ride
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    Oh yeah...

    The Heckler is going to work great for anything you want I think. In fact I just bought one. As I mentioned in another post I got a Credit Card from my wife this morning for Birthday with for a new bike. I bought the Heckler (2006 model) with the SRAM X9 groupset and I had left over money for a Chameleon frame and a Tora fork so that I can swap parts from my Bullit (too big for me and not really designed for my riding style) to it. I bought the Heckler in black and the Chameleon in White. I am really excited and should get both bikes this Friday or Saturday! Too cool. So yeah I think you should go for the Heckler I think it'll work out for you in the short term and the long. Good luck man.

  10. #10
    ride hard take risks
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    Versus Blitz II can climb like a mtn. goat & decend like a squirrel chase down a tree, Awesome.
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  11. #11
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    how bout adding Trek Fuel EX into ur list?? The 07 models are lighter then Giant Trance and has longer travel. Too bad Giant, you guys lost in this category to other manufacturers. Very sad, I really love Maestro but I realise my Giant Anthem 2 (international edition) is the same weight as a Trek Fuel EX 8 and I totally hate 07 Trance colour. I really love the original Giant Trance

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheelhot
    how bout adding Trek Fuel EX into ur list?? The 07 models are lighter then Giant Trance and has longer travel. Too bad Giant, you guys lost in this category to other manufacturers. Very sad, I really love Maestro but I realise my Giant Anthem 2 (international edition) is the same weight as a Trek Fuel EX 8 and I totally hate 07 Trance colour. I really love the original Giant Trance
    I think Giant has the Reign if you want more travel... Anyway, maybe it's just a personal thing since I haven't ridden neither a Trance nor a Fuel EX, but the Fuel does not look that appealing, while the Trance looks strong and a very good option.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtnJammer
    I thought about the Heckler Deore build, but I would like to keep the weight below 30 lbs. Is the extra travel and slack geometry worth the weight penalty? Would I pay the price on the climbs with the Heckler vs. the Trance or Superlight?
    I don't think 30 lbs (or 32 or so lbs) is heavy, really. Probably of all the bikes I've seen, I would choose the Heckler. Maybe it won't climb as nimble as a Superlight or Trance, but it depends on your riding. For me, climbing is just to get to a nice place, not the main course in the menu. Descending or clearing stuff is where the fun is, and you'll have a great bike here!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by rzozaya1969
    I don't think 30 lbs (or 32 or so lbs) is heavy, really. Probably of all the bikes I've seen, I would choose the Heckler. Maybe it won't climb as nimble as a Superlight or Trance, but it depends on your riding. For me, climbing is just to get to a nice place, not the main course in the menu. Descending or clearing stuff is where the fun is, and you'll have a great bike here!

    I agree with Rzoz on this one.. I now have a heavier bike than before... but have way more fun too

  15. #15
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    Giant Reign has more travel but its kinda heavy and you must really upgrade it to get it as light as possible, maybe 12kg is its max? Well the trance does looks strong but its only 4 inch, while the Anthem is 3.5inch. If Giant for 08 made the Trance lighter and has 5 inch of travel. Then it would be one of the best trail bikes ever existed. (lighter here means that the aluminium version with medium to high end components would be at 11-12kg)

  16. #16
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    You have a good point, rzoz. Going down is way more fun than going up. Especially in the rough stuff we have where I ride.

    If you don't mind me asking, what do you ride now?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtnJammer
    You have a good point, rzoz. Going down is way more fun than going up. Especially in the rough stuff we have where I ride.

    If you don't mind me asking, what do you ride now?
    very hush hush... rzoz rides a blingy Titus Motolite

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtnJammer
    You have a good point, rzoz. Going down is way more fun than going up. Especially in the rough stuff we have where I ride.

    If you don't mind me asking, what do you ride now?
    Okay, I have a Titus Moto Lite as my main bike. It's very, very nice in my opinion. It's a very well balanced ride (good for ups and downs).



    My second bike is a hardtail, a Banshee Viento. It's also good for any trails, kinda burly but light.



    When I got the Moto Lite, I also looked at the SC Heckler. While I think that the ML is a better bike for the riding I do, and probably overall, it's a more expensive bike. I think that the cheapest new ML you can get is at 2,500 bucks, while SC offers a complete Heckler for a lot less, I think.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by rzozaya1969
    Okay, I have a Titus Moto Lite as my main bike. It's very, very nice in my opinion. It's a very well balanced ride (good for ups and downs).



    My second bike is a hardtail, a Banshee Viento. It's also good for any trails, kinda burly but light.



    When I got the Moto Lite, I also looked at the SC Heckler. While I think that the ML is a better bike for the riding I do, and probably overall, it's a more expensive bike. I think that the cheapest new ML you can get is at 2,500 bucks, while SC offers a complete Heckler for a lot less, I think.
    Nice! I actually considered the Moto-Lite for a while until I realized my budget wasn't quote there.

    I am also going to give the new Transition Covert a hard look. Maybe I will see what Adrenaline can do to help me get below $2K.

  20. #20
    I'm Riding It
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    My 2 cents is to go for the Rush....or if you want more aggresive suspension go Prophet. The Lefty is amazing! And Cannondale truly has some great quality builds for cheap $.
    Good luck

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